The number of deadly accidents involving pedestrians rose sharply in 2015 according to preliminary data. The Governors Highway Safety Association released a report highlighting the failure in pedestrian safety efforts. Florida was a leading contributor to the problem and ranked as the state with the highest rate of pedestrian deaths per resident in the nation. Pedestrian safety needs to be emphasized to reverse a long-standing trend of rising death totals.
The first six months of 2015 saw 2,368 pedestrians killed in traffic accidents. Given that pedestrian deaths tend to be higher from July through December, the total number of pedestrian deaths is expected to be 10 percent higher for 2015 than it was for 2014. The majority of pedestrian fatalities happen after the sun goes down. As with car accident fatalities, roughly one-third of the accidents involve pedestrians who had consumed alcohol.
An increase in 2015 would fit with recent history. Pedestrian deaths have generally gone up since 2005. While fatal motor vehicle accidents have dropped in recent years, it just gets more and more dangerous to be a pedestrian. There are several possible explanations for the rise in pedestrian deaths, perhaps chief among them the growing problem of distraction. Cell phones have made distracted drivers and distracted pedestrians a much more common sight than they were 15 years ago.
At 1.35 deaths per 100,000 residents, Florida is home to the highest rate of pedestrian deaths. Some of that is certainly attributable to the weather we enjoy and the extraordinary number of tourists we attract. There are likely a greater number of pedestrians walking around Florida than there are in many states. That does not mean that our efforts to protect pedestrians are sufficient. In everything from driver training to city planning, more effort is necessary to protect pedestrians. Without that effort, the trend of increasing fatalities will likely continue.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, “Pedestrian deaths surged last year by an estimated 10 percent,” by Joan Lowy, 8 March 2016