According to an analysis of preliminary state data released earlier this year, pedestrian fatalities are drastically increasing faster than motorist deaths with almost 6,000 deaths in 2016 – an 11% spike. Pedestrian deaths as a share of the total car accident fatalities increased from 11% in 2006 to 15% in 2015.
While many say an increase in drivers due to an improved economy, as well as an increase in walking for exercise and environmental factors, researchers believe the most significant factor may be more drivers are distracted by cellphones and other electronic devices. Walking and miles driven are up only a few percentage points and are unlikely to contribute to most of the surge in deaths. However, texting and the use of wireless devices has become a nationwide epidemic.
Based on a report by the National Safety Council (NSC), traffic deaths overall grew to 6% last year, which is the highest for deaths on U.S. roadways in almost a decade. The council estimates there were over 40,200 traffic fatalities last year. The last time the death toll exceeded 40,000 deaths in a single year occurred in 2007.
Unfortunately, pedestrian fatalities are substantially surpassing deaths overall, climbing 25% from 2010 to 2015. Total traffic deaths grew about 6% over the same period.
Not only has cellphones and other electronic devices become a distraction to American drivers on the road, but also to pedestrians walking the streets. People are more easily distracted now compared to when we didn’t have so many easily assessable computers in our palms. Now, more than ever, it is our responsibility to be aware of our surroundings and of the dangers associated with cellphone use while driving or walking.