Pedestrian deaths continue to spike nationally

WASHINGTON — For the second year in a row, the number of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes is at a 25-year high.

“About 6,000 pedestrians are dying annually,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director with the Governors Highway Safety Association. “We can’t afford to let this be the new normal.”

Alcohol continues to be a main factor, according to the study, Adkins said.

“About a third of all pedestrians are legally drunk when they’re killed.”

Distraction from smartphones — both for walkers and drivers behind the wheel — are contributing to the growing problem, he said.

The seven states that legalized recreational marijuana use between 2012 and 2016 experienced a collective 16 percent increase in pedestrian fatalities, while other states saw just under a 6 percent jump.

“States like Colorado and Washington, that have legalized marijuana — and of course the District of Columbia, as well — we see deaths went up significantly,” Adkins said.

Locally, the number of pedestrian deaths in the District rose from 3 to 7, while deaths dropped in Maryland, from 46 to 41, and in Virginia, from 50 to 45.

Adkins said the most effective way to reduce pedestrian deaths is to lower speed limits.

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