U.S. Pedestrian Deaths Rose in 2020, Even Though Driving Declined

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

TUESDAY, March 23, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Despite Americans driving less during the pandemic, the number of pedestrian deaths per kilometer in the United States climbed 20% in the first half of 2020, according to new research.

The guilty? Increased speed, distraction and impaired driving, and other dangerous driving behaviors, the researchers said.

Taking into account a 16.5% reduction in vehicle-kilometers traveled nationwide, the pedestrian death rate fell from 1.8 deaths per billion kilometers traveled in 2019 to 2.2 in 2020, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report.

He also said that pedestrians accounted for 17% of all road fatalities in 2019, up from 13% in 2010. Pedestrian fatalities have increased by 46% over the past decade, while all other fatalities in the road only increased by 5%.

“Walking shouldn’t be a life and death endeavor, but many factors have combined to put pedestrians at historic risk levels,” GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said in a press release from the Association.

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“The road safety community needs to focus on a holistic approach that uses all the tools available to save lives, including engineering, community awareness, emergency response and fair application that gives prioritizing the prevention of driving behaviors – such as speeding, distraction and impaired driving – that are problematic. the greatest threats to non-motorized road users, ”he said.

In 2019, pedestrian death rates among non-white populations were higher than among whites.

Most pedestrians are killed on local roads, in the dark and away from intersections, suggesting the need for safer level crossings and greater visibility for pedestrians through better lighting and other measures, according to the report.

Over the past 10 years, the number of pedestrian deaths after dark has increased by 54%, compared to a 16% increase in pedestrian deaths in daylight.

In almost half of pedestrian deaths, alcohol impairment has been reported in the driver and / or pedestrian.

Passenger cars are the type of vehicle most often involved in pedestrian fatalities, but over the past decade, the number of pedestrian fatalities involving sport utility vehicles has increased faster (69%) than pedestrian fatalities. involving passenger cars (46%).

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More information

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association of the United States has more on pedestrian safety.

SOURCE: Governors Highway Safety Association, press release, March 23, 2021

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