The Governors Highway Safety Association, the advocacy group committed to making traffic safety a national priority, recently released its annual report discussing the state of pedestrian safety here in the U.S. and the results are less than encouraging.
Indeed, after examining preliminary data provided by the highway safety offices of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the GHSA researchers found that an estimated 5,997 pedestrians lost their lives last year.
As if this number isn't shocking enough on its own, consider that not only does this constitute an 11 percent increase from 2015, but also the single largest annual increase since these records started being kept over 40 years ago.
Breaking the number down further, the GHSA researchers found:
- 34 states saw increases, 15 states saw decreases and one state (Maine) saw no change in pedestrian fatalities
- Four states -- California, Florida, Texas, and New York -- accounted for 42 percent of all pedestrian fatalities
While figures like these might lead you to believe that 2016 was an especially bad year for walkers and bicyclists here in the Golden State, the reality is that the number of pedestrian deaths actually declined. Indeed, the GHSA researchers found there were 359 pedestrian fatalities in California in 2016 versus 405 in 2015, an 11 percent decrease.
All of this naturally begs the question, however, as to what's behind this nationwide spike and what can be done to combat it?
The report indicates that the spike in pedestrian deaths is likely being fueled in large part by distracted driving, particularly as it relates to smart-phones.
As to what can be done to help keep pedestrians safe, the GHSA researchers point to everything from better road design to more public safety campaigns
Here's hoping these efforts become a reality and that these numbers continue to decline in California.
If you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and your options.