(TNS) — A national report released Tuesday confirmed 6,283 pedestrians were killed in crashes across the country last year, the highest number in nearly 30 years.
Pedestrian deaths increased 3.4% across the country while more bicyclists also were killed in 2018, with 857 deaths, a 6.3% hike.
The increases come amid a decline in fatalities of people traveling inside vehicles in the United States, according to the report by the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA.)
Overall, 2.4% fewer people died last year in traffic crashes. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled also decreased by 3.4%, the lowest fatality rate since 2014.
The deaths of 36,560 people last year represented the second straight year that overall traffic deaths fell. Prior to these two consecutive decreases, there were two back-to-back yearly increases.
While traffic deaths have fallen by 8% in the last decade, deaths of pedestrians across the country have spiked by 42% in the same decade.
In Pennsylvania, overall traffic deaths increased 4.7 percent last year with 1,190 deaths, bucking the national trend of declines. Despite the increase, last year’s statewide total still represented the third-lowest total in the last 20 years.
Pedestrian deaths in the commonwealth mirrored national statistics with an increase but a much larger increase: 34 percent: 201 pedestrian deaths compared to 150 in 2017.
Deaths of bicyclists declined in Pennsylvania last year.
Auto safety experts say the growing number of drivers distracted by mobile devices is at least partly to blame for the increases in pedestrian and bicyclist deaths nationally.
According To NHTSA’s Research:
NHTSA officials said Tuesday they are looking for ways to reduce fatalities among pedestrians and bicyclists, including:
The Governors Highway Safety Association said earlier this year that an increasing shift in U.S. vehicle sales to light trucks instead of passenger cars was a factor in the rising number of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths. The number of pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs increased at a faster rate (50%) over recent years compared to passenger cars (30%,) according to the association. The bigger vehicles are deadlier for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“We are alarmed by the notable increase in pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities,” said Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director of the nonprofit Governors Highway Safety Association, according to a news release. “There is no one solution to the rise in pedestrian deaths. Rather, a combination of engineering, enforcement and educational approaches are needed.”
Other National Findings From The 2018 NHTSA Data Include:
Speeding-related and motorcyclist fatalities declined in Pennsylvania last year too, but not alcohol or drug related fatalities, according to PennDOT.
Fatalities were higher statewide last year for all three categories that control for alcohol or drug use:
Breaking down Pennsylvania to PennDOT’s District 8 engineering region, PennLive found that traffic deaths here jumped from 198 in 2017 to 221 last year. (District 8 is comprised of Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry and York counties.)
Pedestrian deaths here spiked from 27 in 2017 to 44 last year; while fatalities in crashes involving a 65-or-older driver jumped from 25 to 40.
©2019 The Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.