Despite all the new advanced safety features in today’s vehicles, pedestrian deaths are increasing at the fastest rate ever recorded.
The new report shows that researchers project a 10-percent year-over-year increase in pedestrians deaths in 2015, and the Governors Highway Safety Association says that’s the largest annual increase since the national reporting system was established in 1975. It is being estimated that more than 5,300 pedestrians died last year, an increase from the 4,884 figure from 2014. Pedestrians also now account for around 15 percent of all traffic fatalities, a statistic that has risen steadily from 11 percent in 2005.
There are several factors contributing to the increase, including the fact that Americans traveled more than 3.1 trillion miles last year, an increase of 3.5 percent from 2014. Distracted driving and cellphone use are likely contributors, but alcohol remains the single-biggest factor in pedestrian deaths. According to the data, 34 percent of pedestrians killed had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or above, which is the threshold for driver impairment. In addition, 15 percent of drivers are impaired in fatal pedestrian crashes, which means combined, 49 percent of pedestrian deaths involve alcohol impairment.
“This is a dark day in the history of pedestrian safety,” says Richard Retting, the report’s author. “It’s troubling news, particularly in an era when many cities and states are putting a big emphasis on eliminating them all together. And we’re seeing the opposite. We’re seeing a startling increase.”