US pedestrian deaths fall - but remain high, says GHSA

Governors Highway Safety Association finds fatalities are still above pre-pandemic level
Enforcement / June 26, 2024
By David Arminas
Dangerous driving impaired drunk death © Peter Adams |
Dangerous driving, infrastructure shortfalls, larger vehicles contribute to perilous conditions for people walking (© Peter Adams |

US pedestrian traffic fatalities fell 5% last year but remain 14% above the pre-pandemic level, according to data from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

The data analysis also reveals just how much more dangerous it now is to walk in the US, says the association in its report Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2023 Preliminary Data. Pedestrian deaths have increased 77% since 2010, compared to 22% for all other traffic deaths.

The report highlights trends regarding when, where and how drivers strike and kill people who are walking. The five-year death toll surpasses 35,000 as dangerous driving, infrastructure shortfalls and larger vehicles contribute to perilous conditions for people walking.

Analysis found that drivers struck and killed 7,318 people in 2023 – down 5.4% from the year before but 14.1% above the 2019 pre-pandemic level (see graph). The association says that while this modest year-over-year decrease is welcome news, pedestrian fatalities have been surging in recent years and reached a 40-year high in 2022.

The new report also includes an in-depth analysis of 2022 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that reaffirms some troubling trends regarding deaths of people on foot happening at night, where there are no sidewalks, and in crashes with SUVs and pickups. The  data analysis was conducted the research firm Westat.

“A decline in pedestrian deaths offers hope that after years of rising fatalities a new trend is starting,” said Jonathan Adkins, chief executive of GHSA. “We know how to improve safety for people walking – more infrastructure, vehicles designed to protect people walking, lower speeds and equitable traffic enforcement. It will take all this and more, to keep the numbers going in the right direction.”

GHSA will hold a webinar on 9 July to share an overview of the data.