Pedestrian fatalities across the country have climbed yet again. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) projects that pedestrian fatalities from 2021 will reach the highest level in 40 years. 7,485 pedestrians were estimated to be killed by drivers in 2021, which is about an average of 20 deaths per day. Nationwide, this is about a 12% increase from 2020’s data.
Where Wisconsin falls
Across the country, 37 states, as well as Washington, D.C., saw increases in pedestrian fatalities. Wisconsin saw an 8% increase in fatalities from 2020 to 2021, where the state saw 50 fatalities and 54 fatalities, respectively. However, Wisconsin only saw a 1.9% increase in fatalities from 2019 to 2021. Because 2019 represents pre-pandemic levels and is a more “normal” year to compare data with, this puts Wisconsin squarely in the lower end of states that saw increases.
Top contributing factors to crashes
The top contributing factors for pedestrian-vehicle crashes in 2021 were speeding, impaired driving, other dangerous driving behaviors, poor visibility and certain roadway factors, such as the absence of a sidewalk. After dark continues to be the most dangerous time for pedestrians – about 76% of crashes in 2020 took place at night, according to the GHSA.
Making roads safer for pedestrians
Knowing the data and risk factors for crashes, both drivers and pedestrians can take steps to keep themselves and others safe. Drivers can slow down, always refrain from driving under the influence and take extra care to watch for pedestrians at night or in poorly lit areas. Pedestrians can consider the tips below, courtesy of the NHTSA:
- Walk on sidewalks whenever possible. If you must walk on a road without a sidewalk, always walk facing oncoming traffic and position yourself as far away as possible.
- Cross the street using crosswalks and walk defensively, constantly checking for cars in all directions.
- While walking during the daytime is known to be safer, when walking at night, aim to walk in a well-lit area and exercise extra caution.
- Always watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, parking lots, alleys and more. Drivers may pay less attention to pedestrians in these areas.
While pedestrians face risks on the roads, everyone should feel safe to get out and walk. Understanding these tips and constantly exercising vigilance, as well as knowing your rights if you are involved in a crash, can go a long way.