Pedestrian Fatalities, United States, 1990-2018

Pedestrian Fatalities, United States, 1990-2018

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association.

Like in many developed economies, the number of pedestrian fatalities has been steadily decreasing in the United States, particularly because of better vehicle design and road safety (e.g. more pedestrian crossings). However, since the late 2000s, the trend has reversed and pedestrian fatalities are on the rise. Although there is no single factor behind this trend, the following elements can be brought forward:

  • Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) are accounting for a growing share of vehicles in circulation, implying a sharp rise of the pedestrian fatalities involving an SUV (50%). Since SUVs are larger and take more time to stop, they are more likely than a car to kill a pedestrian if a collision occurs.
  • A larger share of the population is living in suburbia where there are fewer amenities for pedestrians and where the average driving speed is higher.
  • More difficult to assess are the distractions conveyed to both pedestrians and drivers by portable devices such as smartphones. Although the usage of portable devices while driving is forbidden by most laws, transgressions are common. Further, pedestrians are increasingly distracted while walking by the usage of their devices.