2022 Deadliest Year for Pedestrians in Four Decades

Pedestrian deaths reached a four-decade high last year, signaling the failure of Vision Zero policies in most U.S. cities.

2 minute read

June 23, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Estimates of nationwide pedestrian deaths by the Governors Highway Safety Association indicate that “U.S. walkers will have experienced a stunning 77-percent increase in deaths since 2010, rising at a rate more than three times faster than the rest of the traveling public, for whom fatalities increased 25 percent over the same period,” according to a Streetsblog article by Kea Wilson.

Planetizen readers should be all too familiar with this refrain. In 2021, U.S. pedestrian deaths broke the previous 40-year record, while 2020 saw the highest number of deaths in three decades. “In all three years, the GHSA noted that large arterials designed to prioritize vehicle speed, large vehicles, and dark road conditions were disproportionately common factors in fatalities — and in the absence of urgent action to address those systemic factors, safety officials are begging drivers themselves to be more careful.”

The findings come as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is working to revise its vehicle safety rules to include a focus on pedestrian safety. So far, the agency has proposed adding a pedestrian safety rating to vehicles and instituting an Automatic Emergency Braking rule. Wilson notes that this rule doesn’t include “important companion technology like Intelligent Speed Assist systems that would prevent vehicles from reaching the deadly velocities at which braking systems are no longer effective.”

There may be one bright spot outside of the GHSA report, Wilson adds: “according to new preliminary estimates from NHTSA released the day before, traffic fatalities actually fell by about 3.3 in the first quarter of 2023, compared to the same period the year prior.” Wilson notes that this number doesn’t break out pedestrian deaths.

Thursday, June 22, 2023 in Streetsblog USA

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