Spike in Pedestrian Deaths in Car Crashes

The number of pedestrian traffic fatalities will increase 10% in 2015 when compared with 2014, according to a recent estimate in a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association publishing the preliminary data from the first half of 2015. Preliminary data also found a spike in traffic deaths during this time, according to a previous report from another source.

The number of pedestrian fatalities nationwide is on the rise at a time when the total number of traffic deaths is generally decreasing. From 2009 to 2014, the pedestrian deaths in car crashes increased 19 percent. The design changes and safety equipment added to motor vehicles to protect occupants haven’t translated to safer streets for pedestrians.

Four states accounted for 42% of all of the pedestrian deaths in the first six months of 2015. These states, California, Florida, Texas and New York, all have large urban, walking populations.

Pennsylvania fell in the middle of the pack in 2014 with 1.26 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people in the population. New Mexico, Florida, Delaware, Nevada and Louisiana composed the top five states with the highest fatality rates.

Pennsylvania actually saw a decrease in the number of year-over-year fatalities between the first six months of 2014 and 2015. The average state increase was 6% with twenty-one states seeing a decrease in the fatality rate. Ohio, California and New York had the largest absolute increase in the number of dead. Four states had increases in fatalities of 100% or more with Ohio and Oregon the two with the largest absolute increase out of the four states.

The report and media covered a few of the possible different explanations. Alcohol is a factor in about half of all the crashes resulting in the death of a pedestrian, according to data from 2013. The use of cell phones while walking was also listed as a possible source of distractions by pedestrians that might contribute to the increasing mortality rate.

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