A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association estimates that 6,227 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2018, the highest number since 1990.
This increase is the continuation of an upward trend which began in 2009, however the increase also coincides with decreases across all other categories of traffic deaths, according to the report.
California reported 432 pedestrian deaths for the first six months of 2018, the highest reported among any of the states or District of Columbia (D.C).
However, California experienced an eight percent decline in the number of pedestrian deaths from Jan. 2018 to June 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.
Fortunately for our community, Sgt. Scott Shoemaker of the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station was able to confirm that they recorded zero pedestrian fatalities in 2018 in Santa Clarita.
Comparatively, as a nation, there was a four percent increase in pedestrian deaths year-over-year during the same period.
While California led the nation in number of pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2018, it only had the 10th highest number of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 population, indicating its high volume of deaths is at least partially attributable to California’s status as the most populous state in the union.
Factors the report identified as contributors to the increase in national pedestrian deaths include texting while driving, impairment of drivers or pedestrians by drugs or alcohol, unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding and drowsy driving, and the increase in the number of SUVs on the road.
Additionally, the report noted that the overall increase in the number of people walking increased the number of people exposed to potential accidents.
The report’s data is based on data collected from state highway offices in each of the 50 states from the first half of 2018, which was combined with estimates based on historical data to forecast the number of pedestrian fatalities in total for 2018.
To combat the risks to pedestrians, California has implemented a number of proven countermeasures, including classroom and community group safety presentations.
Other measures also include:
- Positive reinforcement citations for children demonstrating safe pedestrian behavior
- A mock city called “Safetyville” to practice safe behavior
- Enforcement of safe driving behavior at crosswalks
- Efforts to educate the community on how to interact with new types of infrastructure
In addition to the measures taken by state officials, individuals must do what they can to limit their risk when navigating the roads as a pedestrian, or as a driver.
“If you’re a pedestrian and you’re traveling at hours of darkness, wear something visible or reflective so you’ll be easier for drivers to see,” said Sgt. Shoemaker. “It may seem obvious, but don’t walk impaired. If you’re under the influence that can be just as dangerous as a pedestrian because if your balance is off, you can potentially lose your balance and stagger into traffic.”
Shoemaker also echoed the call for drivers to keep their eyes on the road, stay off their cell phones and other distractions, and recognize pedestrians’ right of way in crosswalks.
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