A new report shows pedestrian fatality rates rose in the first six months of 2020 despite a significant drop in driving amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association projects that pedestrian death rose 20%, attributed to speeding, distracted and impaired driving, and other dangerous driving behaviors that increased during the pandemic.
The Spotlight on Highway Safety report is based on preliminary data provided by state highway offices in all 50 states and D.C.
From January to June, despite a 16.5% drop in vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, across the U.S., 2,957 pedestrians were killed, which is six more in the same period in 2019.
“The rate of drivers striking and killing pedestrians jumped to 2.2 deaths per billion VMT, a significant and unsettling increase from 1.8 deaths the year before,” a news release from the Governors Highway Safety Association said.
D.C., with a rate of 1.89, came in second for pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 of the population from January to June, behind only New Mexico with a rate of 2.12.
Maryland had a rate of 0.99 and Virginia 0.63. Vermont had the lowest pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000, at 0.18.
“Walking should not be a life-or-death undertaking, yet many factors have combined to put pedestrians at historical levels of risk,” GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said in a statement.
The report also examined 2019 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems. Among the findings:
- It showed that pedestrians accounted for 17% of all traffic deaths in 2019, compared to 13% in 2010.
- A large proportion of minority groups were struck and killed traveling on foot than expected based on their share of the population.
- Most pedestrians are killed on local roads, in the dark and away from intersections.
- Alcohol impairment by the driver and/or pedestrian was reported in nearly half of traffic crashes that resulted in a pedestrian fatality.