Jun 23, 2023 - Health

Pedestrian deaths reach 40-year high

Data: Governors Highway Safety Association; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Governors Highway Safety Association; Chart: Axios Visuals

Pedestrian deaths in the U.S. are the highest they've been in 40 years, in part because Americans are buying bigger cars that are more likely to kill cyclists or pedestrians in a crash.

By the numbers: Drivers struck and killed at least 7,500 pedestrians last year, according to new estimates from the Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit organization focused on road safety

  • The group projects that those totals will climb past 8,100 as more data is finalized.
  • That would make 2022 the deadliest year for pedestrians since 1980.
  • Deaths have been rising since 2010, and the trend got significantly worse during the pandemic.

What's happening: The report attributes some of the increase to the rising popularity of trucks and SUVs.

  • Those bigger, heavier vehicles account for a growing share of traffic deaths.
  • There are more of them on the road overall, and you're also less likely to survive getting hit by a truck than getting hit by a smaller car.
  • And a lot of roads simply aren't safe to walk on.

Most pedestrian deaths don't happen in intersections, and they're much more common on roads that don't have sidewalks. Speeding is a major factor, especially on smaller roads.

  • The report also says local governments have cut back significantly on traffic enforcement over the past few years.
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