U.S. pedestrian fatalities reach highest level in 40 Years, GHSA estimates

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A new estimate from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that drivers struck and killed an estimated 7,485 people on foot last year – the most pedestrian deaths in a single year in four decades.

According to a report released by the GHSA on May 19, an average of 20 pedestrians died every day in 2021. The report found that the percentage of speeding-related pedestrian crashes involving children 15 and younger more than doubled over the past three years.

“This is heartbreaking and unacceptable. The pandemic has caused so much death and damage, it’s frustrating to see even more lives needlessly taken due to dangerous driving,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “We must address the root causes of the pedestrian safety crisis – speeding and other dangerous driving behaviors, inadequate infrastructure, and roads designed for vehicle speed instead of safety – to reverse this trend and ensure people can walk safely.”

The new report, Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2021 Preliminary Data, provides a detailed look at projected pedestrian fatalities for the year. GHSA projects that 7,485 pedestrians were killed in 2021, compared to 6,711 in 2020. This is a projected increase of 11.5 percent, representing 774 additional lives lost

Nationwide, the report said, there were 2.23 pedestrian deaths per billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2021 – similar to 2020, but still well above the pre-pandemic average of 1.9. The fatality rate per 100,000 people also increased, rising from 2.02 in 2020 to 2.26 in 2021.

The group said the growing death toll underscores the need for a multi-layered approach to protecting pedestrians from dangerous driving.