According to research done on behalf of the Governors Highway Safety Association which represents the state highway safety offices, pedestrian deaths have risen faster than motorist fatalities and are up to 6000 total last year. Why are there more pedestrian deaths in 2016 than in the prior two decades? Researchers believe the biggest factor may be distraction by drivers and pedestrians due to electronic device usage. This cannot be confirmed but it makes sense. Texting and usage of wireless devices as well as GPS equipment must be serious contributing factors. The fact that 2015 had the second most pedestrian deaths in the prior two decades would imply that the increase in number and usage of various devices by motorists and pedestrians is probably directly related to the increase. Certainly, the number of walkers and motorists have increased in the past two years due to focus on health and wellness and cheap gas prices, but that would not seem to be enough to bring the number of deaths up to current levels.
Another interesting factor related to pedestrian deaths is alcohol use. Fifteen percent of drivers and thirty four percent of pedestrians involved in fatal crashes were intoxicated at the time, although there is no indication that use of alcohol has increased.
It seems that the problem is greatest in the largest population states in which urban folks do a lot of walking such as Delaware, Florida and Arizona.
This motivates me to remind walkers, runners, skateboarders and bikers not to be using earphones which entirely block outside noises such as car horns and to keep the volume down if you must listen to music while you are a pedestrian so that you can hear sounds that would normally cue you in that there is danger from an approaching car, bike or other hazard. Also, don’t forget your helmet if you are biking or skateboarding!