Pedestrian deaths took a sharp upturn last year as accidents involving people on foot killed 6,227. The number was the highest since 1990, when the number was 6,482, and up from 4,109 in 2009.
The Governors Highway Safety Association released its “Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2018 Preliminary Data,” which listed among the reasons the rise in sport utility vehicles on the road, more dangerous driving behavior and poor infrastructure. Distracted and impaired driver behaviors were also listed as primary causes.
The Governors Highway Safety Association has more detailed and exact data for the first half of 2018. Among those findings, compared to the first half of 2017, 25 states and the District of Columbia had increases in pedestrian fatalities, 23 states had decreases and two states remained the same. Almost certainly because of population size, five states — Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas — accounted for nearly half, or 46% of all pedestrian deaths. These states have 33% of the U.S. population.
The rates of pedestrian deaths ranged widely from state to state, based on deaths per 100,000 people in the first half of 2018. New Mexico had the highest rate of pedestrian deaths by that measure of resident population, and New Hampshire had the lowest. New Mexico’s rate on the measure was 2.26 per 100,000. New Hampshire’s was 0.07. A total of 12 states and the District of Columbia had pedestrian fatality rates of 1.0 or higher per 100,000 population.
For even more granular detail, the Governors Highway Safety Association looked at 2017 information. The most substantial factor in pedestrian deaths was the time of day and how dark it was at the time of a pedestrian accident. The “amount of light” was broken into three categories — light, dark, dusk/dawn. Some 75% of pedestrian deaths were after dark. Also, 35% of deaths happened on local roads, followed by 25% on state highways. And 72% of deaths were not at an intersection. The study results added, “Alcohol impairment — for the driver and/or pedestrian — was reported in about half of traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities in 2017.”
What will happen to future trends? Some data from the Governors Highway Safety Association point to ongoing and rising issues. The use of smartphones, which is considered a factor in all automotive related deaths, almost certainly will rise. So will the size and weight of vehicles as SUVs become ever more popular. The increase in pedestrian death rates may not be over.