Pedestrian fatalities have been on the rise in the US in the past decade. In 2020, more than 6,700 pedestrians were killed while walking and using wheelchairs, despite a dramatic decrease in the number of cars on the road and the number of miles traveled. Data from the Governors Highway Safety Association that year projected that the pedestrian fatality rate soared 21 percent, amounting to “the largest ever annual increase in the rate at which drivers struck and killed people on foot.” That same year, nearly 39,000 people were killed in car crashes, the largest number of deaths since 2007. When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its preliminary findings, the NHTSA’s deputy administrator told Reuters: “We’ve never seen trends like this, and we feel an urgency…to take action and turn this around as quickly as possible.”

In 2021, the problem with pedestrian fatalities actually worsened. Data from the Governors Highway Safety Association found that 7,485 pedestrians were killed by drivers, an 11.5 percent increase over the year before, and the most pedestrian deaths recorded in nearly 40 years. In response to the rising death toll among pedestrians and drivers, the US Department of Transportation announced more than $5 billion in funding for local efforts to make roads safer. “We face a national crisis of fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in making the announcement this May. People are more than twice as likely to die in an automobile crash here as in Canada or parts of Europe.

With this statistical data, you must now be more careful than ever when crossing a street as a pedestrian. You cannot assume that you are safe even walking in a crosswalk. Please be on the constant lookout for vehicles in the area, as there seems to be a lot of impatience among drivers these days. As a pedestrian, you should assume that vehicles are likely traveling in excess of the speed limit to ensure you own safety. Be safe out there driving and walking in the streets!