More pedestrians are dying in traffic accidents in the U.S., a new analysis indicates. Despite a decline in all other traffic-related deaths combined, the pedestrian death toll has risen sharply over the last decade, a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association says. While federal data show other traffic-related deaths fell by 6 percent from 2008 to 2017, the number of pedestrian fatalities rose by 35 percent, from 4,414 to 5,977. The group's analysis of historical trends and preliminary state data from the first six months of 2018 also projects pedestrian fatalities reached a nearly 30-year high last year. Researchers estimate there were 6,227 pedestrian deaths in 2018, a 4 percent increase since 2017 and "the largest annual number of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. since 1990."
Pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. hit a 25-year high in 2016, and researchers think that smartphones might be the cause of the spike. There were nearly 6,000 pedestrians killed in 2016, according to preliminary data released Thursday by the Governors Highway Safety Association. That figure represented an 11 percent increase over 2015, when 5,376 pedestrians were killed, and was the largest single year increase in 40 years. The rising tide of roadside deaths was even more pronounced since the start of the decade: between 2010 and 2015, pedestrian deaths have increased 25 percent. Researchers said there doesn't appear to be any other variable besides increased smartphone usage, which can lead to distracted walking and driving, that could explain the spike.