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Pedestrian Fatalities Rise to 16% of Traffic Deaths

A new report projects that 6,227 pedestrian fatalities occurred in 2018, the highest number in nearly three decades. Pedestrians will account for 16 percent of all traffic deaths in 2018, compared to 12 percent in 2008.

While advancements in motor vehicle safety and technology have increased survivability for vehicle occupants involved in crashes, pedestrians remain just as susceptible to sustaining serious or fatal injuries when struck by a motor vehicle, according to the report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

GHSA projects the four percent increase in the number of pedestrians killed based on reports from states of pedestrian fatalities for the first six months of 2018.

Despite the overall rise, 23 states saw declines in pedestrian fatalities for the first half of 2018 compared to 2017, with six states reporting double-digit declines and three reporting consecutive years of declines. Additionally, sharp decreases in pedestrian fatalities in some cities suggest that state-level data may obscure local success stories, according to the report.

An increase in walking appears to have increased exposure. One survey cited in the report estimated that the number of Americans walking to work has increased about four percent between 2007 and 2016.

Most pedestrian fatalities take place on local roads, at night, away from intersections. Nighttime crashes account for more than 90 percent of the total increase in pedestrian deaths.

“While we have made progress reducing fatalities among many other road users in the past decade, pedestrian deaths have risen 35 percent,” noted GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “The alarm bells continue to sound on this issue; it’s clear we need to fortify our collective efforts to protect pedestrians and reverse the trend.”

Report author Richard Retting said there are infrastructure, engineering and behavioral strategies that reduce pedestrian deaths. “Critical improvements to road and vehicle design are being made, but take significant time and resources to implement,” he noted.

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