2016 had the most pedestrian fatalities for the United States in 20 years, since 1996. But this is not just a one-off incident – pedestrian deaths have been on the rise for quite some time.
According to preliminary data from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, pedestrian deaths are up 11 percent in 2016 over 2015. While traffic fatalities in total have decreased by 18 percent from 2006 to 2015, the trend is the opposite for pedestrian fatalities, which saw a 12 percent increase during that same time period. But why are more and more pedestrians getting involved in deadly traffic accidents?
The cause of rising pedestrian accidents
The decrease in traffic fatalities can be easily explained with the increase in vehicle safety over time. As vehicles become safer, more drivers are able to survive traffic accidents.
Pedestrians’ only defense, on the other hand, is the human body itself. And the human body is no less susceptible to damage today than it was twenty years ago.
Additionally, few measures are being taken to promote the safety of pedestrians today. Low income communities are seeing the most damage, as roads have not been touched for decades. As population rises and more cars drive through our roads, we naturally see a rise in pedestrian accidents – and without proper safety measures in place, that trend will continue.
The good news: Some states are improving
While the nationwide trend is grim, some states in the report have actually seen a decrease in pedestrian fatalities – including Illinois and Missouri. While nationally these fatalities have increased by 11 percent, Illinois actually saw a 14 percent decrease.
This is perhaps a testament to safety improvements on the local level, as more Illinois communities take measures to protect their citizens. But one thing is for sure: in many areas throughout the country, pedestrians are facing higher risks than ever before, and need to seek even more protection to ensure their safety on our roads.