Pedestrian fatalities down in DC, Md., but up in Virginia

WASHINGTON — More pedestrians are being killed in crashes across the country, but local figures in D.C. and Maryland buck the national trend.

There was an estimated 11 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities in 2016, according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. Thirty four states saw an increase.

Virginia was among the states seeing an increase, up 35 percent in the first half of 2016 compared to the first half of 2015.

However, D.C. and Maryland both saw decreases, with the District seeing its number fall by 57 percent and its neighbor seeing a 13 percent dip.

The report primarily cited an improved economy — spurring more driving — along with more walking for the cause of the increased pedestrian deaths, which were estimated to nearly reach 6,000 nationally for the first time ever.

Pedestrian deaths as a percentage of total motor vehicle crash deaths also increased, rising from 11 percent in 2007 to 15 percent in 2015. The last time the percentage was that high was in 1990. The report suggests improved car safety and fewer vehicle occupant deaths may be a factor for the rising percentage.

The researchers believe distracted driving and distracted walking are likely factors in the overall uptick in pedestrians being killed in crashes as well, with an increase in more people looking at their phones instead of the road, whether they are behind the wheel or on foot.

Being impaired appeared to be a significant factor in many of these crashes as well.

The report said 15 percent of the crashes involved a drunken driver and 34 percent involved a drunk pedestrian in 2015.

Location also may be a consideration.

About 72 percent of these crashes happened in travel lanes of a road or highway. About 18 percent occurred in intersections, where drivers may be more likely to look for and see pedestrians. And roughly 10 percent of these crashes happened in non-travel lanes, like shoulders or driveways.

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