Pennsylvania Experiencing Highest Percentage Increase in Pedestrian Deaths From Motor Vehicle Incidents

In Pennsylvania, pedestrian deaths are at an all-time high. According to a report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of pedestrians killed by motor vehicles skyrocketed by 41 percent in the first six months of 2018 compared to the first six months of 2017. A jarring total of 90 pedestrians were killed in Pennsylvania traffic-related incidents during the span - 26 more than the 64 fatalities in 2017 - which was the eighth largest total and highest percentage increase (41%) within the United States.

The glaring upward trajectory isn't just a Pennsylvania problem, though. Across the country, more and more pedestrians are dying in traffic-related incidents than ever before. After 19 years of declining rates, the number of fatalities nationally has risen 35 percent over the 10-year period of 2008 to 2017 - totaling 5,977. So, in reality, the 2018 increase rate was just further indication that it's becoming exceedingly dangerous for pedestrians by the year.

Top 10 States For Pedestrian Fatalities From January to June 2018

1) California: 432 deaths
2) Florida: 330 deaths
3) Texas: 298 deaths
4) Georgia: 133 deaths
5) Arizona: 125 deaths
6) New York: 117 deaths
7) North Carolina: 102 deaths
8) Pennsylvania: 90 deaths
9) Illinois: 80 deaths
10) Louisiana: 77 deaths

Analyzing Why

While pedestrian injury and/or death by motor vehicle is a multifaceted issue, it's evident that, distracted drivers from texting or using social media when behind the wheel are an obvious cause. In 2019, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are fixtures in society, providing an ongoing temptation to peruse social media and stay connected while driving. In addition, the number of people driving Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) is higher than ever before, which directly correlates to the 50 percent increase rate in pedestrian fatalities from SUV-related traffic incidents. Thirdly, cities are becoming more navigatable for cyclists and walkers, which means more people are out on the roads.

As a whole, pedestrian fatalities represent 16 percent of all motor vehicle accident deaths.

The issue hits home right in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Southwestern Pennsylvania counties - including Allegheny County - accounted for 12 percent of 792 total PA pedestrian fatalities from 2013 to 2017. In the entire state, pedestrian fatalities account for roughly 10 to 14 percent of all traffic deaths.

Prevention Efforts

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is making increased efforts to combat the problem. Law enforcement agencies have conducted targeted tactics against motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. The state has also focused on a variety of engineering fixes that include biking lanes, speed bumps and raised intersections.

"In Pennsylvania, PennDOT's mission is to maintain and improve safety no matter how you travel," said PennDOT spokesperson Erin Waters-Trasatt in an email to the Trib.

We can help. The Dugan & Associates blog details spring driving safety, teen driving safety, the dangers of social media and driving, how to drive safely around cyclists and how to bike safely in high traffic areas.

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