This month the Governors Highway Safety Association released its annual Spotlight on Highway Safety report on pedestrian traffic fatalities by state, using preliminary data gathered from State Highway Safety Offices. According to the report, traffic fatalities continued rising through the first six months of 2021, with the GHSA projecting that 3,441 pedestrians lost their lives in traffic collisions between January and June of that year. This figure represents “a 17% increase from 2020 and 507 additional lives lost in preventable crashes,” the GHSA states.
As the GHSA explains, the data suggests that almost 80% of states sustained increases in pedestrian fatalities compared to the first six months of 2020, with numbers growing in 39 states as well as Washington, DC. By contrast, eleven states sustained decreases in pedestrian fatalities, with the biggest decrease in Nebraska, which saw a 67% decline compared to the same six months in 2020; Connecticut, which saw a 39% decline; and New Hampshire, which saw a 38% decline.
The report notes further that three states alone comprised a whopping 37% of pedestrian fatalities in the US between January and June 2021. These three states are California, Florida, and Texas, which the GHSA stresses are home to almost 30% of the country’s population. Their high proportion of fatalities may be correlated to the warmer climates, “which tend to increase traffic on foot,” the analysis suggests.
In its conclusion to the report, the GHSA argues that policymakers should work to prevent pedestrian traffic fatalities by adopting a “Safe System approach,” one that “envisions eliminating fatal and serious crashes for all road users by creating a transportation system that accommodates human mistakes and keeps crash impacts on the human body at survivable levels.” The GHSA describes the five elements of the Safe System approach as “safe roads and roadsides, safe vehicles, safe speeds, safe users and post-crash response,” all of which it argues will help promote pedestrian safety.
More information on the rise of pedestrian fatalities in the first six months of 2021 is available via the Governors Highway Safety Association Spotlight on Highway Safety report.