A new study by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows pedestrian deaths are at a 40-year high. Every day, approximately 20 people are killed by a moving vehicle.
GHSA estimates that more than 7,500 pedestrians were killed by drivers in 2022, which is the highest number since 1981.
Pedestrian deaths have increased since 2010 due to unsafe infrastructure, and the increased prevalence of SUVs, which tend to be more deadly for pedestrians than smaller cars.
When the pandemic started, there was a larger surge of pedestrian deaths, thought to be due to empty roadways and increased speeding and distracted driving.
The new data, which was released by GHSA last week, shows that cases of reckless driving and pedestrian deaths have not decreased, even as the pandemic has slowed.
For the seventh consecutive year, New Mexico was ranked most dangerous for pedestrians. Michigan has seen a slight decrease in pedestrian deaths since 2021 but has seen a rise in total fatalities since 2019.
Some of the common reasons a pedestrian may be struck by a vehicle include drivers who are:
Running red lights
Distracted by talking or texting
Making turns at intersections without paying attention
Disobeying traffic signs
Pedestrians should always be cautious and never expect a motorist will driving in a careful and safe manner. Some ways pedestrians can keep themselves safe include:
Only crossing at crosswalks
Following the “do not walk” and “walk” signals
Not looking at their mobile phone when crossing
Wearing reflective clothing
Wearing bright clothing and crossing in well-lit areas
The pie chart above shows a pedestrian’s action prior to a crash in Michigan in 2018. Crossing at an intersection and crossing at a non-intersection combine for approximately 56% of all total Michigan pedestrian crashes.
“Every day, 20 people go for a walk and do not return home,” said GHSA Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Adkins. “The saddest part is that these crashes are preventable. We know what works – better-designed infrastructure, lower speeds, and addressing risky driving behaviors that pose a danger to people walking. We must do these things and more to reverse this awful trend and protect people on foot. Enough is enough.”