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Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Pedestrian deaths are up 46% since 2009, a USA today/Detroit Free Press investigation found, but it's not texting or calling while driving that's causing the increase — it's SUVs.

One horrifying statistic: In 2016 alone, almost as many pedestrians died on or along U.S. roads as those who have died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002.

The pedestrian problem by the numbers

All figures were reported by USA Today following their investigation.

Fatalities:

  • 5,987 pedestrians were killed in 2016.
  • The 10 cities with the "highest pedestrian death rate in fatal traffic crashes": Detroit, Michigan; Newark, New Jersey; St. Louis, Missouri; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; San Bernardino, California; Birmingham, Alabama; Tampa, Florida; Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Phoenix, Arizona.
  • 16% of people killed in traffic accidents in 2016 were pedestrians.

The SUV factor:

  • 60% of new vehicle sales are SUVs and pickup trucks.
  • In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that almost 40% of pedestrian fatalities are due to SUVs and pickups, and that people are "2-3 times more likely to suffer a fatality when struck by an SUV or pickup truck than when struck by a passenger car."

Other factors:

  • Speed: The probability of death is 85% when a vehicle is averaging 40mph in a crash; that's 45% at 30mph, and 5% at 20mph.
  • Braking: U.S. Department of Transportation researchers found that automatic emergency braking "could reduce up to 5,000 vehicle-to-pedestrian crashes and 810 fatal crashes per year."

Go deeper

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.

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