Pedestrian deaths up in 2020 despite lower driving rates

Despite fewer cars on the road in the U.S. during the pandemic, preliminary data indicates increasing pedestrian death rates in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019, according to the Governor's Highway Safety Association.

State Highway Safety Offices in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., provided preliminary counts of pedestrian deaths that occurred in the first half of 2020. The numbers provide an early look at 2020 projections before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System data are available. The reported data used for the analysis are preliminary and, in some cases, incomplete.  

Six things to know: 

1. The pedestrian fatality rate per 1 billion vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. increased a projected 20 percent for the first half of 2020 compared with the first half of 2019.

2. For the first six months of the year, data indicate projected 2020 deaths (2,957) are largely on pace with the high levels of 2019 (2,951), despite large reductions in motor vehicle travel tied to the pandemic. From 2010-19, the number of U.S. pedestrian fatalities increased by 46 percent.

3. GHSA projects an overall yearly pedestrian fatality rate of 1.9 per 100,000 people for 2020, which would be a slight decline from 2019's rate of 2 per 100,000.

4. Pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2020 increased in 27 states and decreased in 20 states and Washington, D.C., while three states reported no change.  

5. Seven states — Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina and Texas — made up more than half (54 percent) of all pedestrian deaths. New Mexico had the highest rate of pedestrian deaths per resident population, while Vermont had the lowest.

6. Additionally, an estimated 20,160 people died in motor vehicle traffic accidents in the first half of 2021, the highest number reported during the first half of the year since 2006, according to data projections from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 


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