According to a new report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more pedestrians and cyclists were killed last year in the United States than in any year since 1990. According to NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System data, 6,283 pedestrians and 857 people on bikes or similar nonmotorized vehicles were killed in 2018, increases of 3.4 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively.
Since 2008, pedestrian deaths in the U.S. have increased more than 65 percent, rising nearly every year. In 2008, pedestrians accounted for about 12 percent of all traffic deaths. A decade later, the number has risen to 17 percent of all fatalities. On average, traffic crashes killed 17 pedestrians and two cyclists each day in 2018. Together, they accounted for one-fifth of traffic deaths.
There were some other interesting statistics included in the report. The number of pedestrians and cyclists killed by large trucks increased by 9.7 percent from the year before, while overall fatalities in such crashes rose only 0.9 percent in the same period. Pedestrian deaths remained nearly the same in rural areas over the last decade but rose 69 percent in urban areas. Cyclist deaths followed the same trend, rising 48 percent in urban areas in the same period.
Kate Kraft, the executive director of walking safety advocacy group America Walks, expressed hope that the new data would encourage politicians to make their cities safer for walkers. People everywhere are choosing to walk more, both for personal health and for environmental reasons. Ms. Kraft said all local governments should invest in infrastructure geared toward nondrivers with the goal of zero traffic deaths. Actions could include lowering speed limits, improving traffic signal efforts, and creating more pedestrian-only public spaces.