Like to Walk Everywhere? You Might Want to See This Stat

GHSA report says preliminary estimates show there were 7,500-plus traffic-caused fatalities last year
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2023 10:45 AM CDT
There Haven't Been This Many Pedestrian Deaths Since '80s
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/PinkBadger)

More than 7,500 pedestrians were fatally struck by cars and other vehicles last year, according to preliminary estimates from the nonprofit Governors Highway Safety Association. But the GHSA thinks the final tally will actually come out to around 8,100 fatalities—making it the highest number of pedestrian deaths in four decades, reports Axios. Ars Technica notes that a recent spike seems to have started around 2010, when just over 4,300 pedestrians were killed by traffic; by 2021, that number had jumped to more than 7,600, a 77% increase. There were decreases in 26 states and the District of Columbia, "an encouraging sign that the deadly trend is slowing and may even be reversing," according to the GHSA report.

But some states were still hit hard, including Arizona, Oregon, and Virginia, which reported the biggest rises in pedestrian deaths by the numbers, with more than 40 deaths in each state as compared to 2021. So what's behind this upsurge? One main contributor is the fact that more people are driving larger SUVs and trucks these days, meaning a vehicle-pedestrian collision is less likely to have a positive outcome for the pedestrian. The GHSA report notes there was a 120% increase in the number of pedestrian deaths caused by SUVs between 2012 and 2021; there was only a 26% increase in deaths caused by car.

The report points to a variety of factors leading to pedestrian deaths, including speeding, cutbacks on local traffic enforcement, unsafe roads (e.g., those without sidewalks), and alcohol use. None of this means, however, that we have to glumly accept this upward trend. The GHSA notes that multiple states are taking preventive measures, including by boosting traffic enforcement, adding pedestrian and bike safety into drivers ed courses, and refining other educational materials. "We all share responsibility for keeping people on foot safe," the nonprofit notes. (More pedestrian stories.)

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