by Lloyd Alter –
The Governors Highway Safety Association’s latest look at what’s happening to pedestrians in America is out, and it is not pretty; there’s a ten percent increase in 2015 over 2014, and a 19 percent increase since 2009. They try to figure out why:
Many factors contribute to changes in the number pedestrian fatalities, including economic conditions, demographics, weather conditions, fuel prices, the amount of motor vehicle travel, and the amount of time people spend walking. Travel monitoring data published by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) indicates that motor vehicle travel on all roads and streets increased by +3.5 percent (+52 billion vehicle miles) for the first half of 2015 as compared with the same period in 2014. A more recent contributing factor may be the growing use of cell phones while walking, which can be a significant source of distraction for pedestrians.
But to be fair, they do not spend any time blaming victims or apportioning blame, saying silly things like 80 percent of accidents are the pedestrians fault. They leave the victim blaming to the states like California, who do the smart phone dumb ad thing:
Instead they focus on the benefits of walking as “ the oldest, most basic, and arguably the most beneficial form of human transportation.” They are actually trying to make it safer for walking and encourage it. They note that 28 percent of trips are less than a mile in length and that moving from a vehicle to the sidewalk can help reduce congestion. They even note that “ motor vehicles are responsible for more than one-half of nitrogen oxide emissions and toxic air pollutant emissions, and one-half of smog-forming volatile organic compounds. Walking is responsible for none of these.” And for once, they make the last mile point, that “Walking is intrinsically linked with public transit, which provides a vital alternative to travel by private automobile.”
Most accidents happen at non-intersections, although a much higher percentage of senior citizens are killed at intersections than other age groups, probably because they are less likely to cross without signals and they are slower.