With distracted driving becoming a life-threatening hazard on our roadways, it may come as no surprise that pedestrian accidents and fatalities are increasing as well. While vehicle safety enhancements have helped to protect drivers and passengers in the event of an auto accident, pedestrians are still just as much at risk of injury and death. Now, a national report shows that traffic-related pedestrian accident deaths are overall increasing—including in Maryland.
A Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report releasing preliminary data for the first half of 2018 showed Maryland pedestrian accident deaths rose by 25 percent between 2017 and 2018 — from 48 to 60 deaths. While some states have made strides to increase pedestrian safety and reduce fatalities, the GHSA projects an overall 4 percent increase in traffic-accident pedestrian fatalities for all of 2018. More than 6,200 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roadways last year—disturbing pedestrian fatality numbers that haven’t been seen since 1990.
The increase in traffic-related pedestrian fatalities has traffic safety and public health officials very concerned. The causes for the increase in pedestrian accidents and deaths vary, with dangerous driving and walking at nighttime topping the list. The GHSA attributes the national rise in pedestrian accident death to key factors, including…
- More people walking to work, increasing their exposure on the roads
- Dangerous driving behaviors, including distracted driving, alcohol-impaired driving, drowsy driving, and speeding putting pedestrians at increased risk
In addition, the GHSA offers these insights to conditions surrounding the rise in pedestrian accident fatalities:
- The number of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) involved in fatal pedestrian accidents has increased by 50 percent since 2013, while non-SUVs involved in pedestrian accidents increased by 30 percent over the same time period. The GHSA notes that while passenger cars are involved in the majority of pedestrian accidents, SUVs can inflict greater injury on pedestrians. Numbers of SUVs registered are on the rise as many Americans still prefer driving bigger vehicles on the road.
- 90 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents happen at night, usually on local roads, away from intersections, where the victims were not in a crosswalk.
The good news is the GHSA reports that 23 states showed a decline in pedestrian deaths for the first six months of 2018, offering lessons learned from public safety and traffic engineering initiatives that may prove helpful to other states. And another report published in the Baltimore Sun showed that while pedestrian accident deaths have increased in Maryland, overall traffic crash fatalities in our state have decreased; 511 people died in crashes in Maryland last year — an 8.5 percent decrease from the previous year. But clearly we still have a long ways to go to achieve zero deaths on our Maryland roadways. Drive – and walk – defensively. There are just too many distractions out there.
New Projection: 2018 Pedestrian Fatalities Highest Since 1990
GHSA Press Release February 28, 2019
Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State
ClaimsJournal.com March 1, 2019
Pedestrian Fatalities Continue to Rise
InsuranceJournal.com March 4, 2019
On Maryland roads, pedestrian deaths are up, but overall accident fatalities are down
Baltimore Sun April 17, 2019