According to CNBC, California and four other states accounted for half of the pedestrian fatalities across America in 2018. America’s pedestrian death toll of 6,227 was 250 deaths higher than the previous year. In fact, since 2008, pedestrian deaths increased by 41%. Estimates now say that 16% of traffic fatalities are pedestrians.
What have Americans been doing differently since 2008? In the recession, many people downsized to one smaller vehicle to lower car payments and increase fuel efficiency. As the economy picked up again, Americans reclaimed their love for bigger and heavier vehicles. This includes crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks. However, pedestrians struck by these vehicles are more likely to face life-threatening injuries. Between 2013 and 2017, pedestrian deaths involving SUVs increased by 50%.
NPR points out that there are also not enough crosswalks in big cities. This compels pedestrians to take their chances crossing the street during rush hour. Distractions also make the situation more deadly. Drivers often get blamed for using their smartphones and not paying attention to the road. However, pedestrians are often guilty of this too.
Simple math also helps to account for the rising fatalities in California, Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Texas. These five states experienced large population growth in 2018 compared to other U.S. states. More people and more vehicles ultimately increase the risk for pedestrian fatalities. However, experts also point to the fact that cities and towns built their transportation systems for cars, not people. It is time to give better consideration to other road users.