Every day, pedestrians face risks when sharing roads with auto traffic. While overall fatal auto accidents are down, the number of pedestrians killed in auto accidents has risen dramatically since 2008. According to the Governors Highway Safety, the number of U.S. pedestrian deaths is up 41% over the last decade. They reached a 28-year high in 2018, with 6,227 pedestrians were killed in auto accidents. Also, Arizona was one of five states – including California, Texas, Georgia and Florida – that accounted for almost half the pedestrian deaths.

Why the increase in pedestrian deaths?

The reasons for the spike in pedestrian deaths are the following:

  • Drivers own larger, heavier vehicles than in past years. The popularity of SUVs, pickups and crossover vehicles means that when pedestrians are hit, the chances they are hit by one of those vehicles is higher. With increased weight, larger vehicles are more likely to cause significant injuries to a pedestrian in a crash.
  • Drivers continue to drive distracted. Any driver using a cell phone behind the wheel, especially if a driver is texting, is a distracted driver. Distracted drivers are more likely to not see a pedestrian and end up hitting someone.
  • More drivers are on the road more of the time, increasing chances of accidents.

How drivers can increase pedestrian awareness

The best way for drivers to avoid an accident with a pedestrian is to always be on the lookout for pedestrians, all the time and in all places. Pedestrians always have the right of way in Arizona marked crosswalks, so drivers need to be prepared to stop when pedestrians are crossing the road in crosswalks.

Other driver safety tips to avoid pedestrian accidents include the following:

  1. Slow down when you see crosswalks where pedestrians may be present.
  2. Never pass a car stopped at a crosswalk. You may not see that pedestrians are crossing at that time.
  3. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which can limit your ability to react to an unexpected pedestrian crossing in your path.
  4. Follow the speed limit, especially in pedestrian-heavy areas (downtowns, near schools or shopping areas).
  5. Be cautious when backing out of driveways or parking spots, where you may encounter pedestrians crossing.

By following these tips, drivers are less likely to cause a devastating accident. No one wants to significantly injure or kill a pedestrian in an accident that could have been prevented.