The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a new study that shows pedestrian deaths are increasing faster than all other traffic fatalities combined. In the study, pedestrian deaths were compared to other forms of traffic-related accidents, and the statistics are startling.
With a 77% increase in the amount of pedestrian deaths from 2010 to 2021, the GHSA estimates that more than 7,500 pedestrians lost their lives in car accidents in 2022 alone. Worse, this continues an upward trend in recent years that puts the nation on pace for the highest number of pedestrian deaths in more than 40 years.
What’s causing the soaring rate of pedestrian fatalities? We dug into the numbers to find out.
How Many Pedestrians Are Killed Each Year?
Cars on the road hit and killed some 7,508 pedestrians in 2022. That figure represents the most pedestrian deaths our nation has seen since 1981, according to the GHSA report. This report also analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to uncover why pedestrian deaths from vehicle collisions are on the rise. The 77% increase since 2010 means that these are growing 3X faster than all other traffic-related deaths.
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)
What’s Causing the Increase in Pedestrian Deaths?
The GHSA’s published report, Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2022 Preliminary Data, showed that the numbers of pedestrian deaths rising coincides with a sharp uptick in dangerous driving behaviors. The comprehensive report utilized data compiled by the State Highway Safety Offices (SHSO) in 49 states, plus the District of Columbia.
“The saddest part is that these crashes are preventable. We know what works – better-designed infrastructure, lower speeds, addressing risky driving behaviors that pose a danger to people walking,” said GHSA Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Adkins in a news release.
Why Pedestrians Can Die in an Accident
Examining data from the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), there are many reasons for the when, where, and how drivers are hitting and killing people on foot, including:
- Poor visibility: the vast majority of pedestrian deaths occur at night.
- No sidewalks: since 2021, 69% of pedestrian deaths occur where there was no sidewalk noted in the crash report.
- Speeding: the risk of death for pedestrians increases at an exponential pace the faster a vehicle is traveling – from 10% at 23 mph all the way to 90% at 58 mph.
- Location: most pedestrian deaths occur on non-freeway arterial roads. With higher speed limits and closer proximity to homes, businesses, and shopping, these roadways see more pedestrians closer to vehicles traveling at high speeds.
- Cell phones/distracted driving: 9 out of 10 Americans now own a smartphone. With so many scrolling, texting, and talking while driving, there are greater chances for an accident to occur.
Who Is Responsible for Pedestrian Deaths in a Car?
However, cars and drivers aren’t solely responsible for the dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths.
According to the GHSA study, a third of pedestrians aged 16 and older killed by vehicles had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater. Alcohol impairment leads to slowed thinking and trouble with balance and coordination, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Alcohol’s effects are only compounded at night, in areas without sidewalks, and closer to vehicles at high speeds. The end result is a perfect storm of dangerous conditions contributing to more pedestrians dying on America’s roadways.
Which States Have the Highest Pedestrian Fatalities?
Comparing state-to-state pedestrian fatalities isn’t always straightforward. One must consider a variety of factors such as the numbers of drivers on the road, available pedestrian safety measures, and even driver demographics.
You might think a state like New York with lots of drivers and pedestrians intermingling may have the most, however, it doesn’t even make the top five. When looking at which states have the highest numbers of pedestrians killed each year, the results may surprise you.
Top 5 States for Pedestrian Deaths in 2022*
- California – 1,100
- Texas – 834
- Florida – 824
- Georgia – 335
- Arizona – 307
*Based on preliminary data examined by the GHSA and the SHSOs.
How Do Planners Make Streets Safer?
Take the tallies mentioned above with a grain of salt. Some states have invested heavily in engineering roadways to provide greater pedestrian safety. “Walkability” is a term used by urban planners to denote a location that is safe, accessible, and enjoyable for pedestrians to share the roadway. You may have heard the term “Walk Score” as well, which is a numerical ranking system to help you identify safer areas to live if you enjoy a walkable lifestyle.
According to Dr. Ann Forsyth, Professor of Urban Planning at Harvard University, a few walkability elements include limiting vehicular access, placing greater emphasis on sidewalks, lighting, and other streetscapes all aimed to facilitate safe walking.
The city of Jacksonville, Florida has several great examples near Farah & Farah’s 10 W Adams St. downtown location. One of those improvements is seen on Laura Street, which was redesigned several years ago to promote better walkability and pedestrian safety for downtown residents and visitors.
On a national scale, the Safe Streets Initiative is a Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) grant program that supports local initiatives to prevent deaths and serious injuries on roads and streets.
By pooling resources and creating greater visibility for the urgent need, real change can happen in our communities. Inspiring change is one of the driving forces behind why we do what we do here at Farah & Farah, so we encourage every member of our team to become involved in the local community.
Hit By a Vehicle and Don’t Know What to Do? Talk to Us
When your whole world has been turned upside down after a pedestrian accident, you need an attorney who listens to you and will stop at nothing to work towards achieving maximum compensation. At Farah & Farah, we do things differently than a lot of other firms. We’ll take the time to get to know our client and how their lives have changed so that we can help make them whole again after their accident.
Our attorneys rely on cooperation over competition, which is why we have been so effective for our clients. If you were hurt in a pedestrian accident or other form of injury and you’re not sure what comes next, you can talk to our team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.