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Pedestrian deaths in America reaching historic levels

Pedestrians have practically no protection against vehicles. This may be illustrated in a recent report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Administration, which found that the number of pedestrian deaths from car accidents and other vehicle crashes in this country last year was the highest number recorded in 30 years. It is also projected that Pennsylvania suffered a record increase in these deaths in 2018.

There were 6,227 pedestrian fatalities in this country in 2018. From preliminary figures, the GHSA projected a 4 percent increase in pedestrian deaths in the United States for 2018, which would make it the highest number reported since 1990.

The GHSA also projected from its information that there were 90 pedestrian deaths in Pennsylvania in the first six months of 2018. This would be a 41 percent increase from that period in 2017. This projected increase would also be the seventh highest increase in annual pedestrian fatalities across all states for the first half of 2017. Pennsylvania was also listed as 23rd in pedestrian deaths calculated per 100,000 calculation. The state rate was .71 per 100,000.

Other bad news in this report revealed that pedestrian fatalities are now 16 percent of all traffic deaths in this country, compared to 12 percent in 2008. During this time, the number of vehicle occupants killed in these accidents fell, while pedestrian fatalities rose. The GHSA attributed this rise to several factors. First, more people are walking. Vehicle sales are trending from passenger cars to bigger vehicles, such as light trucks, which are more fatal to pedestrians. Another possible cause was the danger of distracted drivers using smartphones, which increased over the last decade.

The GHSA called for infrastructure and engineering improvements and better behavior to reduce these fatalities. However, these take time and funding to implement. Law enforcement and public safety campaigns would also contribute to improvement.

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