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Pedestrian Fatalities Reach Record for Two Consecutive Years

March 01, 2018

Graphic courtesy of GHSA.
Graphic courtesy of GHSA.

The 5,984 pedestrians killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2017 represents a decrease of just one half of 1% of pedestrian fatalities in 2016, according to a new report from the Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

It has been more than 25 years since the U.S. experienced this level of pedestrian fatalities, with 2017 marking a second consecutive year of record high numbers.

In a statement, The National Safety Council said it is discouraged by the new figures and is committed to working with GHSA and all members of the Road to Zero Coalition to reverse the negative trend.

The report, "Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2017 Preliminary Data," is based on preliminary data provided by all 50 State Highway Safety Offices and the District of Columbia.

In the first half of 2017 compared with the same period in 2016, 23 states and the District of Columbia reported increases in pedestrian fatalities while 20 states had decreases and seven remained the same.

California ranked highest in fatalities, reporting 352 pedestrian deaths for the first half of 2017. Hawaii and Wyoming reported the fewest fatalities, reporting just one pedestrian death each.

Five states — California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Arizona — each reported more than 100 pedestrian deaths and also accounted for 43% of all pedestrian deaths during the first six months of 2017. The report notes that these states represent approximately 30% of the U.S. population, according to the 2017 U.S. Census.

Other noteworthy findings in the report concern lifestyle factors that may correlate to increased pedestrian fatalities due to impaired judgment and/or distracted behaviors. For example, the seven states (Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington) and District of Columbia that legalized recreational use of marijuana between 2012 and 2016 reported a collective 16.4% increase in pedestrian deaths for the first six months of 2017 as compared to the same period in 2016.  Conversely, all other states reported a collective 5.8% decrease in fatalities for the same comparison periods.

The report notes that the 2017 preliminary data is part of a larger trend in recent years that points to an alarming rise in pedestrian fatalities. Nationwide, pedestrian fatalities increased 27% from 2007 to 2016, while all other traffic fatalities over this period decreased by 14%. Moreover, the number of states with pedestrian fatality rates at or above two per 100,000 population more than doubled from seven in 2014 to 15 in 2016.

Read the full report here.

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