U.S. Pedestrian Deaths at Highest Level in 41 Years

According to a recent analysis, more than 7,500 individuals died last year while being struck by cars as they were crossing or walking along U.S. roads. This is the highest number of pedestrian deaths in more than 40 years.

Experts who monitor the figures were not surprised by this grim trend. However, they were shocked by the steady rise — up 77% since 2010.

“This must change. It’s quite perplexing. Twenty fatalities occur every single day, which is difficult to comprehend, at least for me, according to Adam Snider, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), who released state-by-state statistics this week.

“Then, when you consider how many individuals each one death impacts, including family members, neighbors, friends, mentors, pastors, and the numerous other people we come in contact with on a daily basis, Snider added. “I’m often at a loss for words, simply because of how unfavorable and awful the situation is, and to think of all those ripple effects.”

Over the previous 12 years, pedestrian deaths have climbed significantly, while other traffic-related deaths have also increased, albeit at a lower 25% rate.

The estimated 7,508 pedestrian fatalities in the country in 2018 was an increase of 1% from 2021.

About 77% of pedestrian fatalities in 2021 occurred after dark. Compared to daytime pedestrian deaths, which have climbed by 31%, nighttime accident deaths have surged by 86% since 2010.

The majority of collisions involved passenger cars, although the number of deaths involving SUVs rose more quickly. In a collision, these larger, heavier cars, together with light trucks, might hurt a pedestrian more severely.

The driver’s viewing lines in some of these bigger cars are not quite as good. It can be more difficult to avoid an accident since it is harder to spot persons who are close to the vehicle, according to Snider. Larger and heavier cars are unquestionably a contributing element in the terrible increase in fatalities.

This would require already-installed technologies in some cars that identify pedestrians and automatically engage the brakes if the driver doesn’t do so in time.

In 2021, places without sidewalks were responsible for over 69% of pedestrian fatalities, up from 59% in 2017. Sidewalks can safeguard pedestrians by keeping them apart from moving traffic, but other infrastructure designs, like raised crosswalks and speed-reducing equipment, can offer even greater protection.

In 2021, 8% of pedestrian deaths involved speeding. On arterial non-freeways, where there is more traffic and faster speeds, almost 60% of the accidents occurred. Around 18% of pedestrian fatalities—including those involving stranded drivers and emergency personnel—occurred on freeways.

Minority groups are disproportionately affected by traffic deaths. Data from 2018 to 2020 revealed that pedestrian deaths for white people decreased from 47% to 41%, but increased for Black people from 19% to 20% and for Hispanics from 20% to 21%. Data from 2021 or 2022 were not yet available.

One of the major issues is that these communities of color have historically and systematically underinvested in infrastructure, including sidewalks, lighting, crosswalks, modest speeds, and roadway layouts that slow down drivers and require them to travel at rates that are safer for pedestrians.

Although data can not definitively answer why, one theory is that smartphone usage has increased.

He also highlighted a movement in pedestrian fatalities over the previous ten years from downtown to the suburbs, even though arterial roads remain account for the majority of pedestrian fatalities.

“Further into the suburbs, there are more fatalities and serious injuries among pedestrians,” We have seen this and are wanting to delve a little deeper to determine why exactly that is happening. We don’t know if anything occurred about those suburbs that made them less safe or if there are simply more people suddenly walking out in our suburbs.

While researchers are interested in learning more about what is going on, they are aware of several potential solutions, such as reducing speeds and building more efficient and effective crossing infrastructure.

“Those roads are so unsecured, I’m refusing to try to walk or bike out there,” is a common refrain among those who oppose walking and bicycling. It is sad that so many people are dying in such terrible ways. That therefore prevents us from achieving our environmental emissions goals, as well as our aims for improving public health, reducing air pollution, and addressing equity issues.

The GHSA suggests planning and constructing safer roads, interacting with the homeless, instructing new drivers, and emphasizing punishment for risky driving behaviors.


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