Pedestrians are dying at levels that haven’t been seen in 25 years, according to a new Governor’s Highway Safety Association report.
The reason appears to be that people are ignoring some of the first lessons they learned as children: Watch where you are walking and look both ways.
The reason for that?
Walkers using cellphones, for one thing. More specifically texting while walking. Combine that with drivers using cellphones and the death toll is mounting.
Nearly 6,000 pedestrian fatalities occurred in 2017, a jarring statistic. In fact, the spike in pedestrian deaths began in 2015 with a 9.5 percent increase over the previous year. In 2016, there was another 9 percent increase.
Improvements in vehicle safety such as automatic emergency braking, rearview cameras and collision alert technology have not been able to change the pedestrian death trend, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration.
About 75 percent of pedestrian deaths happen at night. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, dim headlights might bear some responsibility. Every year, about 2,500 pedestrians are killed at night while crossing a road. In many cases, drivers can’t see them because their headlights are not bright enough.
Another suspected factor in the death toll is legalized marijuana. Seven states have legalized the drug, including the District of Columbia where pedestrian deaths rose 16.4 percent in the first half of 2017. However, since deaths in other states fell by nearly 6 percent, researchers have not drawn a definitive link.