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Number of Pedestrians Killed in Crashes Nationwide Growing Sharply, Report Finds
 

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By Jorge Casuso

February 28, 2020 -- The number of pedestrians killed in vehicle crashes nationwide "has grown sharply," reaching its highest level since 1990 two years ago, according to a report released this week.

The study by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) estimates there were 6,227 pedestrian fatalities nationwide in 2018, a four-percent increase over the 5,977 deaths the previous year.

The increase comes as the combined number of all other traffic deaths declined by six percent.

The numbers --- based on data from the State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) -- have been increasing since 2008, when 4,414 deaths were reported, according to the study.

Five states -- Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas -- accounted for 46 percent of all pedestrian deaths.

The report attributes the annual changes in the numbers to "many factors outside the control of state and local traffic safety officials."

They include "economic conditions, population growth, demographic changes, weather conditions, fuel prices, vehicle miles traveled and the amount of time people spend walking."

The increasing shift from cars to SUVs -- which cause "more severe pedestrian impacts" -- was also a factor, with pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs rising by 50 percent between 2013 and 2017, compared to a 30 percent increase for cars.

Also possibly contributing to the trend is "the large growth in smartphone use over the past decade, which can be a significant source of distraction for all road users," according to the study.

The report found that increases in pedestrian fatalities are occurring largely at night, with the number of nighttime pedestrian fatalities growing by 45 percent between 2008 to 2017, compared to only an 11 percent increase in daytime pedestrian fatalities.

California, the nation's largest state, had the most pedestrian fatalities -- 432 -- during the first half of 2018, the last full period reported.

Florida was second with 330, followed by Texas with 298, Georgia with 133 and Arizona with 125.

California ranked tenth in the pedestrian fatality rate with 1.09 deaths per 100,000 residents. New Mexico topped the list with a rate of 2.26.

Santa Monica had no pedestrian deaths in 2018, after recording eight fatalities in 2017 ("Eighth Pedestrian Killed This Year in Santa Monica," November 21, 2017).

The City took measures to curb the trend by boosting funding to make the city's busy streets safer and hiring a “Vision Zero czar” ("Santa Monica City Council Calls for Safe Streets 'Czar,'” May 11, 2017).

In 2019, there were two pedestrian deaths, with another two recorded so far this year.


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