Pedestrian and bicyclist accident related deaths are at an all-time high according to The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA). In its annual report, released this week, 6,283 pedestrians were killed in crashes across the country last year, an increase of 3.4%, and 857 bicyclists were killed, a 6.3% increase. The NHTSA reported that these are the highest numbers in nearly 30 years.
While traffic deaths have fallen by 8% in the last decade, deaths of pedestrians across the country have spiked by 42% in the same decade.
For 2018, pedestrian deaths in Pennsylvania increased by a whopping 34% with 201 deaths compared to 150 in 2017.
Auto safety experts say the growing number of drivers distracted by mobile devices is at least partly to blame for the increases in pedestrian and bicyclist deaths nationally.
The NHTSA’s research revealed the following:
- Pedestrian fatalities occurred overwhelmingly after dark (76%) when many pedestrians had some alcohol in their systems (38%) and were not at intersections (74%; i.e., crossing in the middle of a street or road);
- Bicyclist fatalities often occurred after dark (50%) with some alcohol in their systems (26%) and outside of intersections (60%).
“We are alarmed by the notable increase in pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities,” said Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director of the nonprofit Governors Highway Safety Association, according to a news release. “There is no one solution to the rise in pedestrian deaths. Rather, a combination of engineering, enforcement and educational approaches are needed.”
Pedestrians and bicyclists alike should take steps to protect themselves when traveling on Pennsylvania roadways: always wear reflective material and/or have a light source connected to yourself or your bicycle; cross roadways at intersections or within clearly designated crosswalks whenever possible; avoid traveling after dark whenever possible and always be aware of your surroundings and vehicles on the roadway.