More than 7,500 people were killed last year after being struck by while walking along or across U.S. roadways, marking the most pedestrian deaths in more than four decades, a new report found.
The Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA), a nonprofit organization that represents state and territorial highway safety offices, projected that 7,508 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2022 – the highest since 1981 and a 1% increase from 2021.
The projected number is based on preliminary information from 49 states and Washington, D.C.
GHSA noted that the number is most likely even higher because Oklahoma did not provide data to the organization and averages 92 pedestrian deaths on a yearly basis.
According to GHSA, Arizona, Virginia, and Oregon all reported a notable increase in pedestrian deaths from 2021 to 2022 – causing the 1% increase overall.
The data revealed that 22 states reported an increase in pedestrian fatalities last year while 26 states and D.C. saw a decrease, the GHSA said. Rhode Island was the only state to report an unchanged number.
The report also analyzed 2021 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to provide additional context on when, where and how drivers strike and kill people on foot.
NHTSA found that speeding and other risky driving behaviors increased during the pandemic and persisted into 2021.
In 2020 and 2021, speeding was cited as a factor in 29% of all fatalities.
FARS also found that alcohol-related traffic deaths reported by police increased 5% from 2020 to 2021, following a dramatic 14% spike in 2020 seemingly attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, GHSA found that 30.5% of pedestrians ages 16 or older killed in car crashes had a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 or greater.
The report also noted that the majority vehicle-related deaths took place at night and in conditions with artificial lighting.
According to the GHSA and NHTSA, 40% of pedestrian deaths were caused by a pickup truck or SUV while 35% involved a small car.
Following the release of the data, NHTSA Chief Counsel Ann Carlson announced a proposal that would require heavy vehicles to have automatic emergency braking systems to help mitigate the frequency and severity of rear-end crashes.
“Advanced driver assistance systems like AEB have the power to save lives,” Carlson said. “Today’s announcement is an important step forward in improving safety on our nation’s roadways by reducing, and ultimately eliminating, preventable tragedies that harm Americans.”