Pedestrian Fatalities at a 42-Year Peak: A Call for Heightened Safety Measures

Pedestrian fatalities have reached their highest levels in 42 years, with 7,508 deaths reported in 2022, the most since 1981. This alarming trend is largely attributed to distracted driving, which is also a major cause of car accidents and injuries. Many of these tragic incidents occur in urban areas, particularly when drivers fail to notice pedestrians and make right turns at crosswalks.

Cities like Los Angeles have seen an alarming 80% increase in pedestrian deaths over the past three years. This issue affects everyone, as we all become pedestrians at some point, whether walking, biking, or using public transportation.

The recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) highlights several key statistics:

  • Speeding was a factor in 8.8% of pedestrian deaths.
  • 19% of pedestrian fatalities in 2021 involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.
  • 71% of pedestrian fatalities occurred after dark, with 62% happening in areas without adequate lighting.
  • 68% of pedestrian fatalities occurred in areas where no sidewalk was reported.

Distracted driving is a significant contributor, accounting for 10% of all fatal crashes, 18% of injury crashes, and 16% of all police-reported crashes. Approximately 12% of individuals killed due to distracted driving are pedestrians.

Research also indicates a rise in distracted walking, with many pedestrians using smartphones while on foot. A study by The Ohio State University found that between 2004 and 2010, the number of pedestrians killed while using a cell phone increased from less than 1% to 3.6%. In 2010, over 1,500 pedestrians were estimated to have been treated for injuries related to cell phone use while walking, more than doubling since 2005.

To improve pedestrian safety:

For pedestrians:

  • Avoid using earbuds or headphones while walking to remain aware of your surroundings.
  • Walk against traffic if sidewalks are unavailable to see oncoming vehicles.
  • Always check for vehicles, even if the pedestrian signal is green, when crossing at crosswalks.

For drivers:

  • Refrain from using smartphones while driving.
  • Stay alert for pedestrians and other vehicles on the road.
  • Reduce speed and exercise caution when driving in low-light conditions, such as at dusk or at night in residential areas.
  • Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and zebra crossings.

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