Pedestrian Deaths Tick Down — But Rose 58 Percent in the Last Decade

Road fatalities fell by a meager 4 percent in the first half of 2023.

2 minute read

February 27, 2024, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Yellow 'Yield to pedestrians' sign with graphic sign of person walking across street.

nd700 / Adobe Stock

According to a press release from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), pedestrian deaths in the United States dropped by 4 percent in the first half of 2023, but remain 19 percent higher than in 2019 before the pandemic began.

The rise in pedestrian deaths is even more stark when looking back at the past decade – fatalities have risen a staggering 58% between the first half of 2013 and 2023.

The GHSA report attributes the rise in deaths to a steep drop in traffic enforcement, road designs that prioritize fast-moving traffic, and a lack of adequate pedestrian infrastructure in many U.S. cities. “To help address this pedestrian safety crisis, GHSA supports a holistic solution rooted in the Safe System approach that is outlined in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS). Each of the five elements of this approach – safe road users, safe vehicles, safe speeds, safe roads and post-crash care – combine to create a multi-layered safety net that can protect people inside and outside of vehicles.”

In a related article in Streetsblog USA, Kea Wilson argues that a Safe Systems approach is necessary but not sufficient to end pedestrian deaths. Wilson writes, “the particular “Safe Systems” that America is building are nowhere near sufficient to meet the scale of our roadway crisis.” Further,  “We have not yet meaningfully reckoned with which layers of that system have the most potential to save lives, and which ones are most subject to failure,” nor directed the appropriate resources to strengthening the most effective tools. “And we certainly have not acknowledged that all these endless safety nets just aren’t as necessary when Americans are less dependent on cars to meet their every need, or the essential role that simply having fewer drivers can play in preventing driver violence.”

Tuesday, February 27, 2024 in Governors Highway Safety Association

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