According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), almost 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2016 in traffic accidents. Pedestrian deaths shot up 10 percent between 2014 and 2015, more than any other category of traffic-related fatalities, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The cause of this deadly trend has been greatly debated, with different groups pointing to a stronger economy and hence more cars on the road, more people walking to work or for recreation, and distraction due to the skyrocketing use of smartphone technology. Meanwhile, most efforts to prevent distraction are focused on motor vehicle drivers and passengers rather than pedestrians.
Teens Account for 25 Percent Increase in Pedestrian Deaths Over Past Five Years
Even if a person is not behind a wheel, they can be at risk if walking while talking on a cell phone or listening to music through headphones. Among kids, teens account for 50 percent of all pedestrian deaths in the United States, and unintentional pedestrian traffic injuries are the fifth leading cause of fatalities for ages 5 to 19. Older teens have accounted for a staggering 25 percent increase in pedestrian injuries in the past five years. Over half of all adults have been involved in a distracted walking encounter.
Tips To Stay Safe
Walking is healthy for both people and the environment. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind that will increase your chances of arriving safely at your destination.
- Look left, right and left again before crossing the street
- Make eye contact with drivers of oncoming vehicles to make sure they see you
- Be aware of drivers even when you’re in a crosswalk; vehicles have blind spots
- Don’t wear headphones while walking
- Never use a cell phone or other electronic device while walking
- If your view is blocked, move to a place where you can see oncoming traffic
- Never rely on a car to stop
- Only cross at designated crosswalks (82 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur outside crosswalks)
- Wear bright and/or reflective clothing, especially at night
- Walk in groups, if possible