U.S. Pedestrian Fatalities Rise, While European Pedestrian Fatalities Fall

Europe proves to Americans that when it comes to pedestrian fatalities, it doesn't have to be this way.

1 minute read

July 5, 2019, 1:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Joe Cortright takes a deep dive into the latest traffic safety data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The most alarming data from the latest traffic safety report, as summarized by Cortright, "In the nine years from 2009 and 2018, pedestrian deaths increaseed 51 percent from 4,109 to 6,227."

Cortright's larger point isn't to prove exactly why so many more cars are killing so many more pedestrians on streets and roads around the country, but that Americans should not accept these tragedies as a necessary result of mobility. Americans only need look to Europe, which has greatly reduced pedestrian fatalities over the same span.

While some may regard a pedestrian death toll as somehow unavoidable, the recent experience of European countries as a group suggests that there’s nothing about modern life (Europeans have high rates of car ownership and as many smart phones as Americans) that means the pedestrian death toll must be high and rising. In fact, at the same time pedestrian deaths have been soaring the US, they’ve been dropping steadily in Europe.  In the latest nine year period for which European data are available, pedestrian deaths decreased from 8,342 to 5,320, a decline of 36 percent.

Those data come from the European Road Safety Observatory [pdf].

Aaron Short at Streetsblog USA first reported on the pedestrian safety data from the NHTSA.

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