The numbers are grim. Despite fewer motor vehicles on the road last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, pedestrian deaths in the U.S. soared 21% in 2020 compared with the previous year. The figure is based on vehicle miles traveled, which factors in the volume of drivers on U.S. roads.
The Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) recently issued a study on pedestrian fatalities. The organization projects 2.3 pedestrian fatalities per billion vehicle miles traveled in 2020, compared with 1.9 in 2019. The 21% increase represents the largest annual rise since the mid-1970s. Pedestrians will have to be vigilant in protecting themselves.
Connecticut recorded 65 pedestrian fatalities last year
The GHSA released a report on May 20, projecting that 6,721 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicle drivers in 2020. Connecticut was among the 16 states to see pedestrian fatality increases of 20% or more. According to Governor GHSA report, Connecticut saw a 23% increase in pedestrian fatalities in 2020 compared with the previous year. Projected pedestrian fatalities are 65 in 2020. A total of 53 pedestrians died in Connecticut in 2019.
Numbers and tragedies aside, it is crucial to focus on pedestrian safety and protection. Municipalities have tried through actions such as constructing roundabouts, pedestrian refuge islands and improving lighting. But pedestrians can do a few things, too, to protect themselves.
Limit nighttime walking
Here are a few tips that may help pedestrians protect themselves:
- Limiting walking at night. If you do walk at night, do so in well-lit areas. The GHSA reported that 75% of all pedestrian fatalities occur at night. Nighttime pedestrian fatalities increased by 54% during the 10-year period from 2010 to 2019. Daytime pedestrian fatalities increased by 16% during that same time.
- Taking extra precautions around SUVs. America’s love of these larger road vehicles should give pause to pedestrians. Often, SUV drivers fail to see pedestrians – especially children – because their view is obscured due to the height of their vehicles. The GHSA noted that SUVs cause the most serious and fatal injuries to pedestrians.
- Ensuring that the drivers see you. Sometimes, drivers are distracting by fumbling with their smartphones, eating and even putting on make-up. They likely will not see you during these ill-advised and illegal activities. Avoid entering crosswalks when you see such drivers. And wearing light-colored clothing is a good way to let drivers see you.
- Always making eye contact with drivers. Do not make assumptions that they see you while you cross the street.
- Avoid distractions while walking. Avoid talking and texting with a smartphone while walking. Another tip for pedestrians: Do not use headphones or earbuds to listen to music. You want to be able to hear sounds in your surroundings.
Anytime a motor vehicle strikes a pedestrian, the aftermath is not a good one. Serious and catastrophic injuries are possible. While pedestrians cannot control the questionable decisions of drivers, they can do their utmost to better protect themselves.