Report: 2018 To See Most Pedestrian Fatalities Since 1990

Published on February 28, 2019 10:28 AM in Safe Driving
Report: 2018 To See Most Pedestrian Fatalities Since 1990

More than 6,200 pedestrians died on American roadways in 2018, the highest number in nearly three decades. 

According to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, data complied from all 50 states through the first six months of the year indicate 2018 will be the deadliest year for pedestrians since 1990. 

Pedestrians accounted for 16 percent of all traffic deaths in 2018, up from 12 percent in 2008.

"Everyone deserves to travel safely, and this reported spike in pedestrian deaths illustrates that we all must do more to keep each other safe when traveling from Point A to Point B," said Maureen Vogel of the National Safety Council, an advocacy group focused on avoiding preventable deaths.

Her statements were echoed by the report's author, Richard Retting. 

“Crossing the street should not be a death sentence,” Retting said. “We have a range of proven infrastructure, engineering, and behavioral strategies that we know can reduce pedestrian deaths. Critical improvements to road and vehicle design are being made, but take significant time and resources to implement. It is also important to conduct law enforcement and safety education campaigns now to ensure drivers and pedestrians can safely coexist. It’s crucial to do everything we can to protect pedestrians utilizing a broad approach.”

Despite the grim figures cited in the overall report, their are positive trends scattered about the country.

For example:

• Twenty-three states saw declines in pedestrian fatalities for the first half of 2018 compared to 2017.

• Six states reported double-digit declines in pedestrian fatalities.

• Three states reported consecutive years of declines in pedestrian fatalities.

Moving forward, the GHSA's report offers suggestions like targeted law enforcement efforts, outreach in high-risk areas, pedestrian safety assessments and road safety audits as measures that could reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities. 

The report identifies a number of trends tied to the rise in pedestrian fatalities

  • More walking has increased exposure. One survey estimates the number of Americans walking to work in the past week increased about four percent between 2007 and 2016.
  • Most pedestrian fatalities take place on local roads, at night, away from intersections, suggesting the need for safer road crossings. Nighttime crashes accounted for more than 90 percent of the total increase in pedestrian deaths during the last decade. 
  • Unsafe driving behaviors, (speeding, distracted and drowsy driving) and alcohol impairment by the driver and/or pedestrian was reported in about half of traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities in 2017. 
  • The number of sport utility vehicles involved in pedestrian deaths has increased by 50 percent since 2013. Passenger cars’ involvement in pedestrian fatalities increased by 30 percent over the same time period. Passenger cars still account for the majority of pedestrian deaths, though SUVs generally cause more severe pedestrian injuries.