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An examination of the increases in pedestrian motor vehicle crash fatalities during 2009–16

Hu, Wen; Cicchino, Jessica B.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
May 2018

Introduction: Pedestrian fatalities increased 46% in the United States during 2009–16. This study identified circumstances under which the largest increases in deaths occurred during this period.
Method: Annual counts of U.S. pedestrian fatalities and crash involvements were extracted from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and General Estimates System. Poisson regression examined if pedestrian fatalities by various roadway, environmental, personal, and vehicle factors changed significantly during 2009–16. Linear regression examined changes over the study period in pedestrian deaths per 100 crash involvements and in horsepower per 1,000 pounds of weight among passenger vehicles involved in fatal single-vehicle pedestrian crashes.
Results: Pedestrian deaths per 100 crash involvements increased 29% from 2010, when they reached their lowest point, to 2015, the most recent year for which crash involvement data were available. The largest increases in pedestrian deaths during 2009–16 occurred in urban areas (54% increase from 2009 to 2016), on arterials (67% increase), at nonintersections (50% increase), and in dark conditions (56% increase). The rise in the number of SUVs involved in fatal single-vehicle pedestrian crashes (82% increase) was larger than the increases in the number of cars, vans, pickups, or medium/heavy trucks involved in these crashes. The power of passenger vehicles involved in fatal single-vehicle pedestrian crashes increased over the study period, with larger increases in vehicle power among more powerful vehicles.
Conclusions: Efforts to turn back the recent increase in pedestrian fatalities should focus on the conditions where the rise has been the greatest. Practical applications: Transportation agencies can improve urban arterials by investing in proven countermeasures, such as road diets, median crossing islands, pedestrian hybrid beacons, and automated speed enforcement. Better road lighting and vehicle headlights could improve pedestrian visibility at night.