Why Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities Are Increasing

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

If you're a pedestrian, you may want to wait to read this article until you've finished crossing the street.

That's because 2015 is expected to see the largest year-to-year increase (a projected 10 percent) in pedestrian traffic fatalities since national reporting began in 1975, according to a new report released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

But that's not all. The report also found that four states accounted for nearly half of all pedestrian deaths. Granted, those four states -- California, Texas, Florida and New York -- do have large, urban areas where many people choose to walk rather than drive. However, "when population is taken into account, the states with the highest fatality rate per 100,000 population were all over the map," the report explained, citing states like New Mexico, Louisiana and South Carolina.

So what's causing the expected increase of pedestrian fatalities? The report cites various reasons, including:

  • Pedestrians who are texting and walking, and therefore not looking as they cross the street.
  • Better economic conditions and cheaper gas prices, which leads to more driving and more people on the road.
  • Increased awareness of healthy living, which means more people are walking because they know it's good for them.
  • So what's being done to reduce pedestrian fatalities? Check out some of these interesting ideas currently being implemented in states across the country:

  • Connecticut is redesigning some of its roadways by increasing the amount of roundabouts, which the state hopes will reduce driving speed and ultimately fatalities.
  • Georgia is currently creating education programs for non-native English speakers.
  • The Massachusetts Highway Safety Office provides overtime funds to local police departments if they're working to enforce bicyclist and pedestrian safety.
  • Texas is implementing a peer-to-peer program in middle and high schools to bring awareness to distracted walkingg
  • North Dakota encourages the use of count-up and countdown timers at intersections with heavy pedestrian traffic, so that pedestrians can anticipate how much time they have to either cross the street, or how much time until they are able to cross the street.
  • It's important to note that the report is just a projected total, however. The GHSA took preliminary data from the first six months of 2015 from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and compared that to the data from the first six months of 2014. By doing so, the government found an increase of six percent in the reported number of fatalities between 2015 and 2014. The non-profit agency then adjusted for under-reporting and calculated the total 10 percent increase for 2015.

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