Pedestrian deaths had gone down for decades, but pedestrian fatalities have gone up over the previous ten years by 53%. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) estimates, there were 6,590 fatalities in 2019, which is a 5% jump from 2018 and the highest total in 30 years.
While these numbers have caused alarm among safety experts, the GHSA’s preliminary analysis of the cause for this increase should come as no surprise to many on the road:
- Cellphone use and distracted driving rates have soared with the emergence of smartphones.
- There are now more SUVs (up 81% in ten years), which are harder for drivers to maneuver and more lethal to pedestrians.
- Trends in road design favored vehicle use instead of pedestrian safety.
- Higher rates of intoxicated drivers and pedestrians.
- Walking in the dark has become increasingly deadly (up 67% in 10 years).
Making the roads safer for pedestrians
The report made such common suggestions as adding more crosswalks, so pedestrians are not tempted to cross mid-block. It also called for a more substantial law enforcement presence to issue tickets and arrest those suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Better street lighting is something that many communities are looking at, if they have not already started the process.
Pedestrians need to be careful
It is a mistake to assume that drivers will see a pedestrian in the road, regardless of what they are wearing. The report adds:
“An estimated 33% of fatal pedestrian crashes involved a pedestrian with a [blood alcohol concentration] of 0.08% or higher, and an estimated 16% of drivers involved in these crashes had a BAC of 0.08% or higher,” the report said. “Pedestrian safety can be addressed by conducting high-visibility impaired driving enforcement in areas with robust nighttime pedestrian activity.”
Troubling trends close to home
The culture surrounding alcohol use here in Louisiana is only furthered by the fact that nearby New Orleans is a global destination. Not driving is the right choice for those under the influence, but it is clear that the roads are also not safe for intoxicated pedestrians who choose not to take precautions. It all adds up to a troubling trend that will involve more deaths for both the reckless and the