After seeing a 40-year high in 2021, pedestrian deaths rose 5% in the first half of 2022. The latest analysis from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows that a dubious decade-long trend shows no signs of slowing down.
From January to June last year, 3,434 pedestrians were killed by drivers on U.S. roadways. The fatality rate translates to 19 fatalities per day, one every 75 minutes. While deaths during the same period slightly declined in California, the state leads the nation in pedestrian deaths annually.
A decade of decline in pedestrian safety
California reported 504 traffic fatalities involving pedestrians in the first half of 2022, compared to 506 during the same six-month period the year before. The GHSA says the Golden State, Texas and Florida account for 38% of all pedestrian deaths while being home to 28% of the country’s population. The analysis looked at the past 10 years and found these sobering facts:
- Pedestrian deaths skyrocketed 60% from 2013 to 2014 – from 2,141 to 3,434.
- Twenty-four states saw increases in pedestrian fatalities from Jan-June last year.
- Fifteen states reported consecutive years of increased pedestrian deaths.
- Only two states reported two straight years of declines.
In addition to the troubling trend regarding pedestrians, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 31,785 traffic fatalities in the first nine months of 2022, representing a slight decrease. However, 2021’s toll of over 43,000 traffic deaths was the most since 2005.
Factors leading to the rise in pedestrian deaths
The GHSA says a combination of factors leads to more pedestrians dying on U.S. highways. These include:
- The surge in dangerous driving that began during the pandemic hasn’t diminished.
- Over the last decade, more Americans have bought larger vehicles increasing the risk of death or severe injuries.
- Inadequate infrastructure, such as missing or crumbling sidewalks and crosswalks, poor lighting or no lighting.
- Road designs and laws that prioritize faster speeds over speed limits that protect pedestrians.
To combat this, the GHSA supports a multi-layered strategy outlined by the U.S. Transportation Department. The goals include safer roads, safer vehicles, reduced speeds, improved driver education and efforts to bolster post-crash medical care.