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

Most of these accidents happened after dark and passenger cars were involved in most of the crashes
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THURSDAY, June 22, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- More than 7,500 people were killed last year after being struck by vehicles while walking along or across U.S. roadways -- the most pedestrian deaths in more than four decades, according to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

This sobering trend was not surprising to experts who track the numbers. But they were dismayed by the consistent increase -- up 77 percent since 2010.

GHSA used data from state highway safety offices in 49 states and Washington, D.C., for its report. Oklahoma did not provide state data, but has averaged 92 deaths annually in recent years.

The projected 7,508 pedestrian deaths nationwide last year was up 1 percent from 2021. In 2021, about 77 percent of pedestrian fatalities happened after dark. Nighttime crash deaths have increased by 86 percent since 2010, compared with a 31 percent increase in daytime pedestrian deaths, according to the report. Passenger cars accounted for most crashes, but deaths involving SUVs increased at a faster rate. These bigger and heavier vehicles, along with light trucks, can cause more harm to a pedestrian in a crash.

About 69 percent of pedestrian fatalities happened in places with no sidewalks in 2021, up from 59 percent in 2017. Sidewalks can protect people by separating them from vehicle traffic, but other infrastructure designs such as raised crosswalks and traffic calming devices that slow vehicles down, can provide even more protection, GHSA said.

Speeding was involved in 8 percent of pedestrian deaths in 2021. About 60 percent happened on nonfreeway arterial roads, which have more traffic and higher speeds. About 18 percent of pedestrian deaths happened on freeways, including those involving stranded motorists and first responders.

Racial and ethnic minorities bear a growing burden in traffic deaths. While data from 2021 or 2022 were not yet available, data from 2018 to 2020 showed that deaths for White pedestrians dropped from 47 to 41 percent, but grew from 19 to 20 percent for Black individuals and from 20 to 21 percent for Hispanic people.

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