Pedestrian Deaths on U.S. Roadways Last Year Were Highest in Nearly 30 Years, Killing 6,227: Report

Government highway safety officials indicate that 2018 was the deadliest year for pedestrians in the last 30 years, continuing a ten year trend of increases for pedestrian deaths on U.S. roadways.

According to a 2018 Pedestrian Fatality Report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) on Thursday, preliminary data suggests that there was a three percent increase in fatalities involving pedestrians during the first six month of 2018, when compared to the first six months of 2017.

GHSA offices from all 50 states and the District of Columbia reported data on pedestrian fatalities during the first half of last year, which researchers compared to previous years to calculate estimated annual totals. Researchers expect that the total number of pedestrian deaths in 2018 was about 6,227, which is a four percent total increase over the prior year, and indicates that the number of fatalities for pedestrians has increased each year since 2009.

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The preliminary data suggests that there may have been more pedestrian fatalities in 2018 than during any other year since 1990, when fatalities reached 6,482. Over the last decade, since 2008, the number of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. has increased by 35 percent, with more than 1,500 additional pedestrian deaths in 2017 compared with 2008.

Despite federal and state efforts to improve pedestrian safety, the report found 25 states and the District of Columbia saw increases in deaths. States such as Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas accounted for 46 percent of all pedestrian deaths

Researchers were able to make a correlation between increases in pedestrian fatalities to population increases. Ten of the states with the highest population growths from 2017 to 2018 were also found to have an overall five percent increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities for the first six months of 2018.

Further, researchers found night time pedestrian death increases far exceeded day time fatalities. The number of night time pedestrian fatalities increased by 45 percent compared to the 11 percent increase in daytime pedestrian fatalities.

Continuous increases of pedestrian fatalities has become a major focus of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), who released a series of safety recommendations in September 2018, calling for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) to collaborate on efforts to produce better standards that will protect pedestrians.

Some of the recommendations have included improving crash avoidance systems in vehicles to protect not just individuals inside other vehicles, but also the pedestrians. As part of the recommendations, NTSB officials are recommending the NHTSA incorporate pedestrian collision avoidance systems into its crash-test ratings to encourage vehicle manufacturers to develop and improve software.

One of the newest struggles for highway safety officials to provide pedestrian safety in populated cities, has been the influx in pedestrians using Bird and Lime electric scooters crashes that have caused thousands of injuries and many reports of riders colliding with vehicles, in which some have resulted in fatalities.

The ride sharing services specifically target states with populated cities and could be adding to the already steadily increasing pedestrian fatality rates.

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