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Report: US Pedestrian Fatalities Spike In 2016

by John Gomez | Last Updated: March 30, 2017
Pedestrian Fatalities

Doctors have likely or will likely encourage most of us to do more walking as we get older.  Walking is very good exercise and can provide several different health benefits for people.  Most walkers, regardless of why they are out and about, share space with motorists and bicyclists.  For the most part, this shared arrangement works out well.

Unfortunately, such a circumstance also carries risk with it.  Sadly, thousands of people are injured and killed in pedestrian accidents in the United States every year.

What’s even more concerning is that the number of pedestrian fatalities across the country has been rising quickly in recent years.  A recently released report provides all of the specifics, and it should be a call to action for anyone who is concerned about pedestrian safety.  Fortunately, there are basic steps that people can take – both literally and figuratively – that will help them avoid accidents.

About the Pedestrian Fatalities Report

The Governors Highway Safety Association, or GHSA, released the report.  Those interested in reviewing it can find a download link here.  The report is entitled, “Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2016 Preliminary Data.”  The data are preliminary because the specific statistics run through only the first six months of 2016 and the rest are extrapolated in order to provide insight on the entire calendar year.  All 50 State Highway Safety Offices provided their data for the report.

On an overall level, the report provided the following information:

  • An estimated 5,997 pedestrian fatalities occurred in 2016 in the United States.
  • 5,376 pedestrians died in 2015.
  • 4,910 pedestrians died in 2014.
  • This represents an increase in pedestrian fatalities of 11 percent between 2015 and 2016.
  • It also represents an increase in pedestrian fatalities of 22 percent between 2014 and 2016.
  • Pedestrian fatalities in the United States have increased by 25 percent since 2010.
  • Total traffic fatalities have increased by 6 percent since 2010.

This is clearly not a positive trend.  Not only are pedestrian fatalities rising in the United States, but they are rising quickly.  They are also rising at a rate that’s four times higher than the rate of overall traffic deaths.  In addition, the increase in pedestrian fatalities between 2015 and 2016 is the largest increase in the 40 years that these records have been maintained.  The second largest increase occurred between 2014 and 2015.

Pedestrian Fatalities By State in 2015

Given that 2015 is the last year with a complete set of data, the GHSA included the final rankings for pedestrian fatalities by state for that year.  Below are the 10 most dangerous states for pedestrians based on mortality rate, as measured by fatalities per 100,000 residents:

  1. Delaware – 3.38
  2. Florida – 3.12
  3. South Carolina – 2.55
  4. New Mexico – 2.49
  5. Arizona – 2.39
  6. Louisiana – 2.33
  7. Nevada – 2.25
  8. District of Columbia – 2.23
  9. California – 2.18
  10. Mississippi – 2.11

The 10 safest states for pedestrians in 2015, based on the same rate of fatalities per 100,000 residents, include:

  1. Idaho – 0.48
  2. South Dakota – 0.70
  3. New Hampshire – 0.75
  4. Minnesota – 0.75
  5. Rhode Island – 0.76
  6. Vermont – 0.80
  7. Wyoming – 0.85
  8. Iowa – 0.86
  9. North Dakota – 0.92
  10. Virginia – 0.93

One of the first things that many people notice when looking at these rankings is that the vast majority of the most dangerous states feature warm-weather climates.  Conversely, many of the safest states are home to cold winters.

Pedestrian Fatalities By State in 2016

For comparison, below you’ll find the 10 states with the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents during the first six months of 2016:

  1. Delaware – 1.89
  2. Florida – 1.46
  3. Arizona – 1.40
  4. South Carolina – 1.33
  5. New Mexico – 1.25
  6. Texas – 1.16
  7. Alabama – 1.15
  8. Louisiana – 1.13
  9. Georgia – 1.06
  10. Hawaii – 1.05

The 10 safest states for pedestrians during the first six months of 2016 include:

  1. Wyoming – 0.17
  2. South Dakota – 0.23
  3. North Dakota – 0.26
  4. Iowa – 0.35
  5. Nebraska – 0.37
  6. Wisconsin – 0.38
  7. Maine – 0.38
  8. Minnesota – 0.42
  9. Idaho – 0.42
  10. District of Columbia – 0.44

California dropped out of the top 10 for the first half of 2016.  In general, many of the same jurisdictions appeared on the same lists as they did for 2015.

Pedestrian Fatalities – The Ongoing Upward Trend

Pedestrian fatalities seemed to hit a high point in 1997, when more than 5,000 people died during that year.  That number declined every year until 2001, when it jumped somewhat slightly and began to fall again.  It rose again in 2005, but between 2005 and 2009 there was a steady decline in pedestrian fatalities.  Just over 4,000 people were killed in pedestrian accidents that year.  Since then, however, the rate has been climbing quickly.  It seems clear that something needs to be done in order to break this trend and to make the roads safer.

Ideas for Minimizing Risk of Pedestrian Accidents

Local and state governments are studying this issue as there is a lot of concern with regards to these numbers.  Individuals can also take some steps to minimize the chance that they are involved in a pedestrian accident.  A few ideas to keep in mind include:

  • Clothing – It may seem elementary, but bright and reflective clothing can and often does make the difference between pedestrians and vehicles colliding and avoiding each other.  Wear bright and reflective clothing regardless of the time of day you’re walking.
  • Eye Contact – Some pedestrian accidents are merely a result of miscommunication between the pedestrian and a driver.  If you’re going to cross a street and cross the path of a vehicle that’s stopped, make sure you make eye contact with the driver before proceeding.
  • Stay In the Intersection – According to the report, 82 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur outside of intersections.  Most motorists expect to see pedestrians inside of intersections, but many do not expect to see them in other areas.  If possible, use the crosswalks available at intersections.

How San Diego Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help

Another way that we can all help to bring down the number of pedestrian fatalities is to make sure that those who are responsible for these crashes are held properly accountable.  People who lose loved ones in any type of traffic accident face enormous losses.

If this has happened to you, seek the help of San Diego personal injury lawyers who have been standing up for the rights of suffering clients for more than a decade.

Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.


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