Pedestrian Fatalities Are a Growing Epidemic in the United States


Every time they travel on foot, pedestrians put their lives at risk. The
human body is no match for a motor vehicle during a collision, which makes
pedestrians the most vulnerable population on the road.

According to preliminary data prepared by the Governors Highway Safety
Association (GHSA), there were nearly 6,000 pedestrian deaths nationwide
in 2016. This is an 11 percent increase from 2015 data and the highest
total in nearly two decades.

“Everyone walks, and we want to encourage that, but at the same time
we want to make sure that we all get to our destinations safely,”
Jonathan Adkins, GHSA Executive Director, said in a recent press release. “Unfortunately, this latest data shows that the U.S. is not meeting
the mark on keeping pedestrians safe on our roadways.”

Researchers attribute this dramatic rise in pedestrian fatalities to several
factors, including an increased number of people driving and walking on
our roadways. Alcohol use also continues to be problematic. But perhaps
the most drastic distraction, and one that can be prevented, is use of
cellphones and other electronic devices. Both pedestrians and drivers
can become easily distracted by calling, texting, updating social media
and using other phone apps.

In its report, the GHSA encourages states to continue their efforts to
reduce pedestrian fatalities. They also provide current examples from
41 states and the District of Columbia. For Indiana, the GHSA reports
educational efforts by the City of Bloomington, grant funds used to enforce
traffic laws, particularly in school zones, and efforts to improve pedestrian
signals and add safety zones throughout Indianapolis by the Alliance for
Health Promotion.

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