Roadway improvements have been shown to reduce crashes.
Pedestrian motor vehicle crash deaths have declined dramatically since 1975 but still account for 14 percent of crash deaths. The rates of pedestrian deaths in motor vehicle crashes per 100,000 people are highest for people ages 70 and older.
Pedestrian deaths occur primarily in urban areas. Engineering measures that separate vehicles and pedestrians such as sidewalks, refuge islands, overpasses and underpasses, and barriers can reduce the problem. Increased illumination and improved signal timing at intersections also can be effective. Because traffic speeds affect the risk and severity of pedestrian crashes, reducing speeds can lower pedestrian deaths.
Retting, R.A.; Ferguson, S.A.; and McCartt, A.T. 2003. A review of evidence-based traffic engineering measures to reduce pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes. American Journal of Public Health 93:1456-63.
Vehicle factors also are important. Most serious injuries result from pedestrians impacting vehicle bumpers, hoods, or the windshield area. Serious head, pelvis and leg injuries are common, and the severity of such injuries may be mitigated through improved vehicle design.
Daniel, S., Jr. 2004. The role of the vehicle front end in pedestrian impact protection. Pedestrian Safety (PT-112), 99-112. Warrendale, PA: Society of Automotive Engineers.
In addition, some vehicles are equipped with crash avoidance technologies that detect pedestrians and may automatically brake the vehicle prior to impact. Although these technologies have the potential to reduce the likelihood of serious injuries to pedestrians, their effectiveness in real-world crashes is unknown.
The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
A total of 4,743 pedestrian deaths occurred in 2012, down 37 percent from 1975. Pedestrian deaths have declined from 17 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 1975 to 14 percent in 2012. Pedestrian deaths increased in 2012 by 15 percent from their lowest point in 2009, compared with a decline of 3 percent for all other crash deaths during this period.
Nineteen percent of pedestrian deaths in 2012 occurred in hit-and-run crashes.
The rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people decreased 57 percent from 1975 to 2012. The pedestrian death rate for children ages 0-12 decreased 89 percent. Children this age had the second-highest pedestrian death rate in 1975 but in 2012 had the lowest. The death rate for pedestrians 70 and older has declined 74 percent since 1975. Despite the huge decline, pedestrians this age had the highest death rate every year since 1975.
Sixty-nine percent of pedestrians killed in 2012 were males, a proportion that has varied little since 1975.
Fifty-one percent of pedestrians 16 and older killed in nighttime (9 p.m. to 6 a.m.) crashes in 2012 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) at or above 0.08 percent, compared with 61 percent in 1982. The rate of high BACs among pedestrians 16 and older killed in daytime (6 a.m. to 9 p.m.) crashes in 2012 was 23 percent, compared with 27 percent in 1982.
Seventy-three percent of pedestrian deaths in 2012 occurred in urban areas, up from 59 percent in 1975.
Thirty-nine percent of pedestrian deaths among people 70 and older in 2012 occurred at intersections, compared with 23 percent for those younger than 70.
Fifty-eight percent of pedestrian deaths in 2012 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways.
In urban areas, 54 percent of pedestrian deaths in 2012 occurred on roads with speed limits of 40 mph or less; in rural areas 25 percent of deaths occurred on such roads.
Twenty-five percent of pedestrian deaths in 2012 occurred in crashes between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. and 22 percent occurred between 9 p.m. and midnight.
The largest proportion of pedestrian deaths in 2012 occurred on Saturday (18 percent), followed by Friday (16 percent).
Pedestrian deaths in 2012 were most frequent in December (11 percent), followed by October and November (10 percent each).
©1996-2015, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute | www.iihs.org
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