Recent reports indicate that 2015 was a bad year for traffic safety. Fatal car and truck accidents increased in the first nine months of the year, according to preliminary data. Now, a report issued by the Governors Highway safety Association suggests that pedestrian deaths rose by an estimated 10 percent in 2015. The report indicated a number of potential culprits, including an increase in distracted drivers and distracted pedestrians, warmer temperatures around the country, and a sharp drop in gas prices. More drivers on the road meant more danger for pedestrians and cyclists.
Pedestrian safety is an area of growing concern. The uptick in traffic fatalities in 2015 represented a departure from recent trends. Deadly car accidents have been gradually dropping over the past decade. Pedestrian deaths, however, have been growing steadily since 2005. The estimated increase from 2014 to 2015 would represent the largest year-over-year increase since 1975.
The first half of 2015 saw 2,368 pedestrian fatalities. That means pedestrian deaths made up 15 percent of the total traffic deaths suffered during that period. That is the highest percentage of total deaths accounted for by pedestrians in decades. The number of reported pedestrian deaths tends to rise in the second half of the year. Over the past 5 years, the second half of the year averaged 25 percent more recorded pedestrian deaths than the first half. This trend was used to calculate the estimated 10 percent increase in total pedestrian fatalities.
Sources: U.S. News & World Report, "Pedestrian deaths surged last year by an estimated 10 percent," by Joan Lowy, 8 March 2016