Pedestrian deaths have declined steeply since 1975 but still account for 15 percent of crash fatalities. The decrease may be connected to a decline in walking in recent decades. Two percent of people killed in motor vehicle crashes are bicyclists.
Traffic engineering improvements can reduce pedestrian crashes. Separating vehicles and pedestrians by installing sidewalks, overpasses and underpasses can help reduce conflicts. Other solutions include building median refuge islands and adjusting traffic signals to create an exclusive pedestrian phase or to give pedestrians a head start before vehicles get a green light.
Crash avoidance features and other vehicle improvements may also make pedestrians and bicyclists safer. Some forward collision avoidance systems are designed to detect pedestrians in a vehicle's path, and rear cameras and other park assist systems may prevent backover crashes. Modifying the front structures of vehicles may reduce the severity of pedestrian injuries. Regulators in Europe and elsewhere have been encouraging pedestrian safety in vehicle design through their vehicle testing programs.
Helmets provide critical protection for bicyclists. Among a majority of bicyclists killed in crashes, head injuries are the most serious injuries. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent.