Pedestrian deaths continued to rise in the first half of 2022, up 5% from the same period in the prior year, according to a report released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association. GHSA estimates that 3,434 people were killed by vehicles from January to June 2022, an average of 19 people a day. The preliminary data comes from 49 states and the District of Columbia.
“Each of these represents a person who was out taking a walk, going to get groceries, pushing their kid in the stroller,” said Adam Snider, GHSA director of communications, in an interview. “There's a pedestrian safety crisis on our roads, and it is getting worse.”
From 2012 to 2021, the yearly pedestrian death rate soared 52%, Snider said.
Three large states experienced nearly 40% of the total pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2022, according to GHSA estimates. In California alone, 504 pedestrians lost their lives. Florida suffered 443 deaths, and Texas, 368. According to the report, warmer climates that encourage walking and large urban centers where vehicle-pedestrian conflicts are more likely may contribute to the higher death tolls in these states. Snider also pointed to the trend toward bigger and heavier vehicles, which can inflict greater injury on vulnerable road users.
Florida also tops the list of most deadly states for pedestrians in terms of deaths per 100,000 people. Among states with the lowest deaths per capita are Idaho, Minnesota, Rhode Island and South Dakota.
The GHSA works through its state highway safety offices to increase public awareness of pedestrian safety issues and with state departments of transportation to “support design changes” for safer streets and roads, Snider said.
At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Transportation advocates for the safe system approach, which many states and communities have adopted. It is a “key element” of GHSA’s communications with states, said Snider. A GHSA report on the role of behavioral safety in the safe system approach emphasizes the need for communities to take “a fully holistic approach” to improving roadway safety.
“The only way to reverse this awful trend is to do more of everything that works — more and better designed infrastructure to keep people walking safe, equitable enforcement of traffic safety laws to stop dangerous driving and engaging more communities where the impacts of this crisis are felt the hardest,” said GHSA Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Adkins in a press release.