Report: pedestrian deaths rise rapidly in last decade; equity issues, SUVS, smartphones cited

By Mark Prado
Ped safety
Mark Prado

A new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows an alarming spike in pedestrian deaths throughout the country. During the 10-year period from 2009 to 2018, the number of pedestrian fatalities increased by 53%.

The report notes socioeconomic status is a strong risk factor for pedestrian accidents. A California study found that pedestrian crashes are four times more frequent in poor neighborhoods.

In the first six months of 2019, California recorded the most fatalities in the nation at 519. Five states (Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas) accounted for almost half — 47% — of all pedestrian deaths.

The report also notes the number of pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs increased at a faster rate — 81% — from 2009 to 2018 compared to passenger cars, which increased by 53%.

Another possible factor contributing to the rise in the number of pedestrian fatalities is the explosion of smartphone use over the past decade, which can be a significant source of cognitive and visual distractions for all road users, according to the report.

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