When the Governors Highway Safety Association published its annual findings on the number of pedestrian fatalities here in the U.S. last year, there was no shortage of shock and outrage. Indeed, it was hoped that the revelation that the number of pedestrian fatalities had increased by more than 9 percent from 2014 to 2015 would serve as something of a wakeup call to motorists, pedestrians and lawmakers.
Fast forward to the present and, in an unsettling turn of events, it appears as if this wakeup call has gone largely unanswered.
After examining preliminary data from the highway safety offices of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, GHSA researchers have determined that there were 2,660 pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. during the first six months of 2016 as compared with 2,486 during the same timeframe in 2015.
As if this was disconcerting enough, after adjusting for previous trends and potential underreporting, GHSA researchers projected an 11 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities from 2015 to 2016.
Breaking the numbers down further, the GHSA researchers determined that pedestrian fatalities increased in 34 states over this timeframe, decreased in D.C. and 15 states (including Maryland) and remained unchanged in one.
As for what's behind this unprecedented jump in pedestrian fatalities over the last few years, the GHSA researchers attribute it to the reality that not only are more people driving more miles owing to improving economic conditions and lower gas prices, but that more people are walking more miles owing to concerns about everything from their health to the environment.
This reality, they argue, coupled with the ever-increasing reliance smartphones is simply resulting in the deadly mix of more distracted driving and more distracted walking.
If any good news can come from this, the GHSA did report that there are ways to address this problem going forward, including:
- Increased visibility by law enforcement
- More public safety campaigns aimed at both motorists and pedestrians
- Enhanced educational outreach in areas identified as being high-risk
- Adoption of Complete Streets policies designed to make streets safer all users
Always remember to consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you are a motorist who's been seriously injured or a family member who's lost a loved one in any sort of crash by a distracted driver.