Pedestrians Killed at Higher Rates in 2020

GHSA’s annual spotlight report, Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2020 Preliminary Data, offers the first comprehensive look at state and national trends in pedestrian deaths for January-June. The report projects the U.S. pedestrian fatality rate per billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) jumped to 2.2 deaths for the first six months of 2020 compared to 1.8 during the same period in 2019 – a 20% increase.

An analysis of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) projects that 2,957 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roads in the first six months of 2020, closely mirroring the number from the year before despite a 16.5% decrease in VMT during that time. The report examines key trends affecting this rise in pedestrian deaths, including increased reckless driving behaviors, the need for safer road crossings and efforts to make pedestrians more visible through better lighting and other strategies, and the continued uptick in sales of sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which cause more pedestrian impacts in the event of a collision. The report also discusses how a comprehensive approach that leverages engineering, public education, emergency response and equitable enforcement is essential for reducing crashes and saving lives.

The data analysis was conducted by Richard Retting of Sam Schwartz Consulting.

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