According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 2018 is projected to have been the deadliest in 3 decades for pedestrians in the U.S. In the first 6 months of 2018, state highway safety offices in all 50 states and D.C. reported pedestrian fatalities. The association estimates that 6,227 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2018, which is the highest number since 1990. The rise in auto pedestrian deaths comes at a time when all other traffic deaths are on the decline.
Executive Director of the Governors Highway Safety Association Jonathan Adkins, stated that pedestrian deaths have risen 35 percent in the past decade. Pedestrian deaths varied widely throughout the country. New Hampshire reported 1 death in the first six months of 2018, while California reported 432. Researches attribute the increase of deaths to more individuals walking, unsafe driving behaviors like speeding or driving under the influence and the use of cell phones while driving. There has also been a rise in the number of SUV’s on the road, which typically cause more severe pedestrian injuries.
Over the last decade, nighttime crashes have accounted for 90% of the total increase in pedestrian deaths. In 2017, 50% of pedestrian deaths were due to alcohol impairment for either the driver or the pedestrian. Reducing and eventually eliminating pedestrian deaths requires a comprehensive approach that includes, engineering, effective medical emergency response and the participation and education of law enforcement. The approach would also be modified to fit the needs of the local communities.
There are known infrastructure, engineering, and behavioral strategies that can reduce pedestrian deaths. Director of Safety and Research at Sam Schwartz Consulting Richard Retting acknowledges, that there are factors outside the control of safety officials that contribute to the number of pedestrian fatalities. These factors include weather, the cost of travel, fuel prices and the over-all number of people choosing to walk in every state. Adkins believes that the Governors Highway Safety Association needs to strengthen their efforts to protect pedestrians and reverse the current trend in pedestrian fatalities. The association will move forward with diligence to ensure that there are practices in place to help reduce pedestrian deaths in the U.S.