Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities Rise

By | March 21, 2016

The number of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents is expected to have risen by as much as 10 percent when final 2015 statistics are available. That would be the biggest increase ever recorded.

The annual Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Spotlight on Highway Safety Report provides the first look at 2015 pedestrian fatality trends, based on data reported by state highway safety agencies.

“We are projecting the largest year-to-year increase in pedestrian fatalities since national records have been kept, and therefore we are quite alarmed,” said Richard Retting, one of authors from Sam Schwartz Consulting.

Since the Fatality Analysis Reporting System was established in 1975, the year-to-year change in the number of pedestrian fatalities has varied from a 10.5 percent decrease to an 8.1 percent increase.

Pedestrians now account for a larger share, about 15 percent, of all motor vehicle crash-related deaths.

States reported a wide range of increases and decreases in the number of pedestrian fatalities over the first six months of 2015. Twenty-one states had decreases; 26 states and the District of Columbia reported increases; and three states had no change.

The report compares the number of pedestrian fatalities for the first six months of 2015 (2,368) with the same time period the previous year (2,232) to arrive at its 2015 full year projection.

The GHSA report aligns with one by the Government Accountability Office finding that more cyclists as well as pedestrians are now involved in traffic accidents. Pedestrians accounted for 14 percent of traffic deaths in 2013, up from 11 percent in 2004. For cyclists, those figures increased from 1.7 percent in 2004 to 2.2 percent in 2013.

Along with the increase in pedestrian fatalities, pedestrians now account for a larger share — about 15 percent of all motor vehicle crash-related deaths — compared with 11 percent a decade ago, the GHSA data show.

The report suggests several factors could be contributing to this spike, including an increase in motor vehicle travel and the growing use of cell phones among walkers and drivers. “Could the increase of injuries and death of pedestrians be caused, in part, by the inattention of pedestrians?” asked one reader on

Not surprisingly, more pedestrian fatalities tend to occur in large states with large urban centers: California, Florida, Texas and New York accounted for 42 percent of all pedestrian deaths in the first six months of 2015. “Austin, Dallas and Houston all had record fatal auto-pedestrian accidents in 2015,” said Mark Hanna, Insurance Council of Texas. However, when population is taken into account, the states with the highest fatality rate per 100,000 population were all over the map.

About Andrea Wells

Andrea Wells is a veteran insurance editor and Editor-in-Chef of Insurance Journal Magazine. More from Andrea Wells

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