Pedestrian fatalities increase for first time in five years

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Pedestrian deaths are up, says the NHTSA. Image: Leandro returns/Flickr/CC BY

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an advisory Monday, reminding pedestrians who didn’t get the message when they were kids to look both ways before crossing the street. In 2010, the last year for which the numbers have been crunched, the number of pedestrian fatalities rose for the first time in five years.

Pedestrian fatalities up four percent

According to Monday’s report, there were 4,280 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents in 2010. That is a four percent increase from the 4,109 recorded in 2009. And it is the first increase since 2005.

Another estimated 70,000 pedestrians were injured in 2010 traffic scrapes.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said:

“Roadway safety is a two-way street that requires effort on the part of motorists and pedestrians alike.”

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Breaking down the numbers

The report showed that pedestrians were more likely to be killed if they were males (69 percent), crossing the street between intersections (79 percent) during the night (68 percent) and in clear weather (88 percent). Further, the federal regulator said that one pedestrian is killed in the U.S. every two hours; and that one is injured every eight minutes.

Alcohol was involved in the fatalities about half of the time (47 percent).

The states with the highest number of pedestrian traffic fatalities were were California (599), Florida (487), Texas (345), New York (303) and Arizona (146). The five with the least number of pedestrians killed were Nebraska (8), Rhode Island (8), and Montana (8), North Dakota (7), Alaska (6), Vermont (4) and Wyoming (3) .

Fatalities had been declining

The figures are somewhat surprising, considering that pedestrian fatalities had been on a steep decline. In 1980, the NHTSA reported 8,070 pedestrian deaths, the highest on record. In 1990, the number had dropped to 6,482. And in 2001 there were 4,901 pedestrian fatalities.

Consequently, David Strickland, the top administrator at the NHTSA, offered some remedial safety reminders for those traveling on foot:

“Most people are pedestrians at some point in their day. That’s why we’re reminding the public to take precautions.”

Since most fatalities occur when pedestrians don’t cross at the intersection, Strickland advised them to do themselves themselves the courtesy to ford the river at the crossing, so to speak, and never mid-stream. Additionally, he said that they should “wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross the street.”

The report also advised motorists to be more alert to pedestrians when driving their cars. Lone people my be hard to see, especially in poorly lighted areas.

The NHTSA said it was too soon to speculate on reason why the number of pedestrian deaths increased in 2010. The 2011 pedestrian fatality numbers are due before the end of the year.


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