Number Of Pedestrians Killed Rises For First Time In Five Years
One state retains dubious title of being the worst for walkers
It takes place in an urban area. It takes place at a point along the road other than an intersection or crosswalk. It occurs in good weather. It happens most often on Fridays and Saturdays, sometime after 4 p.m. The victim is a male.
That was the composite that emerged from a report on U.S. pedestrian fatalities released Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Sixty-nine percent of pedestrian fatalities were men in 2010, the latest year for which complete statistics were available. Seventy-two percent occurred in urban areas, 72 percent were not at a crosswalk and 89 percent occurred on clear or cloudy days with no precipitation.
For the first time in five years, the annual number of pedestrian deaths climbed. NHTSA said 4,280 pedestrians died in 2010, a 4 percent increase from the 4,109 killed in 2009. An estimated 70,000 were injured.
"Most people are pedestrians at some point in their day," NHTSA administrator David Strickland said in a written release. "That's why we're reminding the pubic to take precautions and use crosswalks or intersections whenever possible."
Pedestrians accounted for 13 percent of the overall 32,885 traffic fatalities in 2010, an uptick of one percent from the prior year. On average, a pedestrian is killed every two hours in the U.S., according to the report.
Florida was the state with the highest rate of pedestrian deaths, with 2.58 occurring per 100,000 residents. It was followed by Delaware (2.45), Arizona (2.28), South Carolina (1.94) and Hawaii (1.91).
The safest states for pedestrians largely lie in middle America: Nebraska (0.44), Kansas (0.52), Wyoming (0.53), Iowa (0.59) and Idaho and Vermont (0.64).
NHTSA's statistics do not include bicyclists or pedestrian deaths that occurred on private property, such as parking lots and driveways.
While the increase caused concern among experts who worry about a rise in distracted driving, the overall number of pedestrian deaths has fallen in seven of the past nine years. In 2001, 4,901 were killed on U.S. roadways, compared to the 4,280 in 2010.
Over the past decade, 46,390 pedestrians were killed in America, roughly the equivalent of running over the population of Farmington, New Mexico or Grapevine, Texas. It was the safest decade on record.
In 1990, the number of pedestrian deaths was 6,482. In 1980, the 8,070 pedestrian deaths were the highest ever recorded in a single year, according to NHTSA statistics.
As the number of pedestrian fatalities increased toward that 1980 number throughout the previous decade, Susan Baker of Johns Hopkins University spoke on the issue of walking at an annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in 1973.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, she remarked: "How can you kill 10,000 Americans a year without public outrage? ... Run them down with a hundred million cars."
Although it was not addressed in Monday's report, a previous NHTSA report issued in June 2008 found although the number of pedestrian crashes was decreasing, the probability of a fatality had increased in the ones that did occur.
Next month, NHTSA hosts a global safety standard meeting, at which the organization is expected to propose safety rules that would force auto manufacturers to alter hood designs that better absorb force in collisions between cars and people.
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