Pedestrian deaths have risen sharply in the United States in recent years. In the 10-year period from 2009 to 2018, pedestrian fatalities increased by 53 percent while the combined number of all other traffic deaths fell by 2 percent. A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association now estimates that the number of pedestrian fatalities last year was 6,590, up five percent on 2018 and the highest level recorded since 1988.
Economic conditions, population growth, demographic changes, weather conditions and fuel prices can all play a role in pedestrian fatality levels but they still cannot be attributed to the steady rise over the past decade. The report states that a shift in American sales away from passenger cars to light trucks could be a contributing factor while the increasing level of distraction associated with smartphone use while driving is another key reason. Darkness is the most dangerous time for pedestrians with 75 percent of all deaths occurring at nighttime in 2017.