Pedestrian Fatalities Fall for the First Time Since the Pandemic

June 26, 2024
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association sees traffic deaths trending down in 2024

New statistics are showing that it’s a bit safer on the roads. For the first time since the pandemic, pedestrian deaths decreased in 2023, according to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)

The report was published Wednesday, showing a 5.4% fall in the annual number of pedestrian deaths. Jonathan Adkins, CEO of the GHSA said that this is a step in the right direction. 

"A decline in pedestrian deaths offers hope that, after years of rising fatalities, a new trend is starting," he said in a GHSA news release. "Each death is tragic and preventable. We know how to improve safety for people walking -- more infrastructure, vehicles designed to protect people walking, lower speeds and equitable traffic enforcement. It will take all this, and more, to keep the numbers going in the right direction." 

Data in the report comes from the State Highway Safety Offices in all 50 states and the District of Columbia according to the GHSA. 

Traffic deaths are still more than pre-pandemic levels, with 7,318 fatalities. However, according to Adkins, some evidence shows that new safety initiatives are helping.  

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, traffic deaths overall are trending downward in 2024. 

The report shows how and where pedestrian fatalities happen. Pedestrians are more likely to be hit at night (78% pedestrian fatalities in 2022) than in the day. “Nighttime fatal pedestrian crashes nearly doubled from 3,030 in 2010 to 5,798 in 2022,” according to the GHSA. 

In 2022, 66% of fatalities happened in areas with no sidewalks. 

"Sidewalks can help protect people walking by providing a physical separation between them and motor vehicle traffic," the GHSA said. "But they are missing or in poor condition in many parts of the country." Three-quarters of pedestrian deaths in 2022 were not at an intersection.”  

Alcohol plays a part in pedestrian fatalities. According to the GHSA, "In 2022, 30% of pedestrians 16 and older killed in motor vehicle crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher." 

Non-freeway arterial roads are where 60% of fatalities occurred in 2022. "Stranded motorists exiting their vehicles, first responders and tow truck drivers are all examples of pedestrians who have been killed on freeways," the GHSA said. "All states have Move Over laws, but they are difficult to enforce."


Source: UPI News, NPR, GHSA

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