The US is suffering a major crisis in road safety and yet little is being done to address this desperate situation. New data from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reveals an increase in pedestrian deaths for the first half of 2022.
The problem is being caused by a combination of factors including dangerous driving, inadequate infrastructure and the use of larger vehicles. Approximately one pedestrian was killed every 75 minutes on average according to the GHSA data.
There were 3,434 pedestrians killed on US roads in the first six months of 2022, an increase of 5% from the same period in 2021. Of concern is the fact that the figures for pedestrian deaths in 2021 were already showing a record high over the previous 40 years. This has created a huge human and financial toll.
Compared with the data from 2019 and before the pandemic, there has been an 18% increase in pedestrian deaths in the US. There were 519 more pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2022 compared with 2019, a horrific increase. More shocking still is that pedestrian deaths in the US have shot up by 60% since the 2,141 recorded in 2013.
The GHSA data is based on information from the State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs). The analysis was carried out by Elizabeth Petraglia, PhD, of research firm Westat. Road deaths increased in 24 US states during the period and fell in a further 21 states. California, Florida and Texas have particularly high rates of pedestrian deaths, accounting for 38% of those killed in the first six months of 2022, despite having only 28% of the US population. Previous research has shown Texas to have the worst record for DUI of any US state, which is likely to be a factor in its poor safety record. There has been an increase in instances of drivers being at the wheel and involved in crashes while under the influence of drugs in states where cannabis use has been legalised, such as California.
But explaining the reasons for why US roads are more dangerous for pedestrians than before the pandemic may be hard to define completely. Some factors are known. There has been an increase in DUI offences in the US since the start of the pandemic. Speeding offences have also increased in this time.
There are concerns also about the safety of road infrastructure and issues with regard to protecting pedestrians from fast moving vehicles. Inadequacies with pedestrian protection have been identified on the network.
US road deaths have increased since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic. There were 31,785 road deaths in the US in the first nine months of 2022, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This represents a small drop compared with the same period in 2021, but is still far higher than the same period in 2019.
More data will be published by GHSA later in the year.