March 15, 2016
Researchers at Sam Schwartz Consulting, a firm that focuses on transportation and related matters, recently released a report indicating that pedestrian deaths due to traffic accidents rose about 10 percent in 2015. The researchers analyzed data from the first half of the year to come to their conclusions; the data they used came from state traffic fatality figures. Since 2005, pedestrian deaths have been increasing as total traffic deaths have declined (those, too, rose about 8 percent in 2015 however). If these figures hold, that would put pedestrian deaths at 15 percent of total traffic deaths in 2015, a number the U.S. last saw 25 years ago.
No one is certain why the number of pedestrian fatalities has risen. It could be due to increased cell phone use by both drivers and walkers, creating more distractions. It could be a result of the increase in warm weather and people walking for fitness. It could also be due in small part to the number of people killed by public transit buses, which usually have huge blind spots that prevent the driver from seeing people approach. Unfortunately though perhaps not surprisingly, alcohol is also involved in a substantial number of these accidents, both on the part of the pedestrian and the driver.
Hopefully, with further study, it will be possible to determine why pedestrian fatalities are increasing at this rate so that we can come up with a strategy to address the situation.