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Pedestrian Accidents and Deaths on the Rise, Study Shows

The rate of pedestrian fatalities in traffic accidents is the highest it has been in over 30 years, according to a recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Researchers report that some common trends, such as consumer car preferences and smart phone use, might be contributing to this unsettling development.

Possible Causes of Increase in Pedestrian Fatalities

The recent GHSA report says that a number of factors might be contributing to this increase in fatalities, including:

    • SUVs. Americans are increasingly driving more sport utility vehicles and light trucks than they used to. Pedestrians who are involved in crashes with these types of larger vehicles typically suffer more severe and even deadly injuries than pedestrians who are struck by lighter weight passenger cars like sedans. The number of fatal pedestrian crashes involving SUVs climbed 81 percent between 2009 and 2018, while the same type of accidents involving passenger cars grew by only 53 percent in the same period.
    • Weather patterns. With warmer weather, people are more likely to walk outside at night, when it is more difficult for drivers to see pedestrians. Additionally, alcohol consumption is typically greater for both drivers and pedestrians in the evenings and nighttime, which might lead to slower response times. Nighttime pedestrian fatalities increased by almost 70 percent between 2009 and 2018, while daytime fatal pedestrian accidents grew by less than 20 percent in the same period.


  • Smartphones. Everyone on the road is increasingly distracted – both visually and cognitively – because of the growing use of smartphones. Both pedestrians and drivers have a duty to avoid distractions while on the road.
  • Drug use. Changes in drug use, including the recent legalization of marijuana in some states, might be a contributing factor in pedestrian fatalities.


  • Other shifts. Recent shifts, such as lower fuel prices, population growth in urban areas, demographic changes, and economic conditions, mean that there might be more people on the road, contributing to the increase in deaths.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics

Data from the GHSA sheds light on many trends associated with the shocking statistics on annual pedestrian deaths, such as:

  • From 2009 to 2018, pedestrian deaths across the United States increased by 53 percent – from just over 4,000 deaths in 2009 to over 6,000 deaths in 2018 – while deaths from other types of traffic accidents increased by only 2 percent over the same time period.
  • Pedestrian deaths as a percentage of total traffic fatalities grew from 12 percent in 2009 to 17 percent in 2018.
  • Initial data from 2019 showed that five states (Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas) accounted for almost half of the country’s pedestrian fatalities.
  • State-focused numbers from the first half of 2019 indicated that Vermont had the lowest rate of pedestrian deaths per resident population of all the states across the U.S., while New Mexico had the highest.


Talk to a Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Now

If you were injured or your loved one was killed in a pedestrian accident, contact the trusted pedestrian accident attorneys at Ketterman Rowland & Westlund today.

Our compassionate and skilled legal team is here to support you during this painful time and aggressively fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.