Security organization says pedestrian fatalities in US highest for almost 30 years


DETROIT – The number of pedestrians killed on US roads last year is the highest in 28 years, due in part to distraction by drivers and walkers, alcoholism and drug abuse and rising number of SUVs on the road, says a report from the security organization.

Using state data for the first half of 2018, the Governors Highway Safety Association estimates that 6,227 pedestrians were killed last year. This represents an increase of 4% over 2017 and 35% – more than 1,500 additional deaths – compared to 2008.

In Arizona, 125 pedestrians died during this period, up from 112 in 2017. Phoenix is ​​the third deadliest city for pedestrians.

"Most of the deaths we've seen in the last two weeks and up until 2018 were people walking with great feet," said Alberto Gutier, director of the governor's road safety office. ;Arizona. "We need more markings and controls for pedestrians, but we also need to make sure our pedestrian crossings are marked."

"I do not like being ranked in the category of major increases with California and Florida, among others," Gutier said.

The association says that more and more people walk to work and that smartphones distract them more. The massive move from US cars to SUVs and light trucks has done more casualties because the larger SUVs tend to hit pedestrians at the head and torso, causing more serious injuries, the report said.

According to Gutier, Arizona's rapid growth is probably one of the main reasons why the death rate is so high, but pedestrians and drivers must be vigilant.

"We have to slow down, we can not go on like that, because it hurts," he said.

"At the same impact speed, a pedestrian is far more likely to die in an SUV accident than in a car accident," said Richard Retting, a consultant and former senior traffic safety official in New York City. author of the report. "Even at 20 or 25 miles at the time, with an SUV, the risk of fatal injuries increases dramatically."

The number of pedestrian deaths involving sport utility vehicles has increased by 50% between 2013 and 2017, while the number of passenger car-related deaths has increased by 30%, the study revealed. The number of walkers killed by passenger cars was even higher in 2017, with 2,279, but the SUVs had 1,097 fatalities.

Pedestrian deaths have been declining for decades until 2009, when smartphone sales and data usage began to rise, Retting said. While Retting said the correlation between the two needs to be further investigated, phone use is one of the only variables that could cause the increase in the number of deaths. "Mobile phone use is one of the few measures I can find that shows constant change, a large-scale change, year after year," Retting said.

According to the study, in about half of fatal crashes, the driver or pedestrian was suffering from alcohol, with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 grams per deciliter.

The report also indicates that most deaths occur on local roads at night and away from intersections, and advocates safer, secure crossings. The number of pedestrian fatalities increased by 45% between 2008 and 2017, while the number of daytime fatalities increased significantly by 11%.

Retting said that municipal governments should assess the characteristics of pedestrian crossings and consider installing pedestrian crossings and lights, even in the absence of intersection.

The increase in the number of pedestrian deaths between 2008 and 2017 came as the total number of road deaths dropped by 6%, the report said.

He also called for law enforcement campaigns and safety education campaigns to ensure that drivers and walkers can coexist safely, as well as for road safety audits.

He said 23 states had recorded a decline in pedestrian fatalities in the first half of last year, with six states recording double-digit declines.

Retting said expect a decrease in the number of pedestrian fatalities, as more and more SUVs and cars are equipped with emergency braking systems and automatic pedestrian detection. Most US automakers are committed to implementing a standard automatic braking system for all their lineups by September 2022.

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