America isn’t making progress on pedestrian safety, with people on foot accounting for a steadily rising share of overall traffic fatalities.
In 2017, for the second year running, nearly 6,000 people were struck and killed while walking in the U.S., according to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association [PDF]. The pedestrian fatality rate remains about 25 percent higher than where it stood just a few years ago.
Other than the increase in driving mileage, there are few solid explanations of the factors at work. GHSA suggests distraction by mobile devices plays a role, as may impairment by marijuana, with pedestrian deaths rising more in states that have legalized weed. Neither explanation has been studied with scientific rigor, however.
One thing that’s certain is that city governments are in position to act on the problem, because pedestrian deaths are concentrated in urban areas. In 2016 alone, pedestrian fatalities in the 10 biggest U.S. cities rose 28 percent. In Los Angeles, the increase was 45 percent.
To reduce pedestrian fatalities, GHSA says states and local governments should focus on the following three areas.
[Just the headlines]
* More separation of pedestrians from motor vehicles
* Better visibility [s/b better nighttime iluumination]
* Reduce lethal motor vehicle speeds using engineering and enforcement