The number of pedestrian and cyclist traffic fatalities in the United States rose an estimated 10 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to the annual Governor’s Highway Safety Association Spotlight on Highway Safety Report. The increase is the “largest year-to-year increase in pedestrian fatalities since national records have been kept,” said Richard Retting, one of the authors of the report.
Overall traffic fatalities also increased significantly during the first half of 2015, in part because there are more cars on the road. Experts credit lower gas prices and an improved economy for that increase. However, fatalities per mile driven were also up 8 percent during the same period, which suggests that other factors are involved.
More Pedestrians and Cyclists On the Road
The disturbing trend in pedestrian and cyclist traffic fatalities may be due in part to the fact that more people are walking and cycling to benefit their health. Additionally, according to data from the Government Accountability Office, more Americans are now walking and cycling to work.
In 2005, 3.3 million Americans said walking was their primary means of transportation for getting to work; an additional 530,000 said they rode a bicycle. By 2013, those numbers had increased to 4 million and 860,000, respectively, the GAO says.
Somewhat predictably, the number of pedestrian and cyclist traffic fatalities is highest in densely populated urban areas, with California, New York, Florida and Texas accounting for about 40 percent of the total number of deaths. However, as of 2014, the actual rate of fatalities by population was highest in New Mexico, Florida, Delaware, Nevada, Louisiana, South Carolina and Arizona, says the GHSA.
Which Pedestrians and Are Involved?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is responsible for monitoring traffic fatalities in the United States, but recent data regarding pedestrians and cyclist traffic fatalities is scarce. What facts are available, however, point to some parallels between the characteristics of fatal traffic accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists and those involving only automobiles. For example:
- Nearly 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities are male
- Most deaths occur in the evening and night time hours
- Thirty percent of pedestrians and 20 percent of cyclists killed had a blood alcohol level above 0.08 — which meets the definition of “alcohol-impaired” in all 50 states.
- In 2011, 11,000 of the 69,000 pedestrians killed in a traffic accident were children under the age of 14.
What Is being Done to Reduce Pedestrian and Cyclist Traffic Fatalities?
In the fall of 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation, in collaboration with state and local authorities, began a nationwide program of pedestrian and cyclist safety assessment in every state. Additionally, the Federal Highway Administration began providing technical assistance to cities with the largest number of pedestrian and cyclist traffic fatalities in an attempt to develop standardized practices designed to make streets and roadways safe.
Additionally, 14 cities in the United States have joined the Vision Zero initiative, a multinational program that began in Sweden in 1997 with the goal of preventing 100 percent of traffic-related deaths. Based on the principle that human beings are fallible, and traffic systems should minimize both the opportunities for errors and the harm done when they occur, Vision Zero programs are addressing every aspect of pedestrian and cyclist safety, including:
- Lowering speed limits in areas where motor vehicles and pedestrians intersect
- Improved road design
- Enhanced enforcement of existing traffic laws
- Targeted education and training
- Identifying areas in large cities where pedestrian and cyclist traffic fatalities most often occur
The NHTSA has also produced a number of educational brochures designed specifically for teenagers, school-aged children and older adults. It has also issued a statement urging all pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to pay attention to their surroundings at all times.
Keeping everyone safe on our roadways is an important responsibility that every American shares. And keeping your family safe is your most important job. At Carmoon Group, we provide a full range of insurance options for your home, business and automobiles that help you manage all your risk. So, call us today at 516-292-3780 to schedule your insurance review. Or if you prefer request a free consultation online and we will get back to you within one business day.