Pedestrian Deaths Soar in USA to 40-Year High in 2021, Alarming Report Reveals

An average of 20 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents every day in 2021, creating a 40-year high in pedestrian fatalities across the U.S., the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) says.

The GHSA report, called Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2021 Preliminary Data, is based on state-provided fatality projections for 2021 and an analysis of recently released 2020 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In addition to drivers striking and killing an estimated 7,485 people on foot in 2021, the GHSA says 2020 data show that the percentage of speeding-related pedestrian crashes involving children ages 15 and younger more than doubled in the previous three years.

“This is heartbreaking and unacceptable,” GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said in a news release announcing the report. “The pandemic has caused so much death and damage. It’s frustrating to see even more lives needlessly taken due to dangerous driving.”

Many pedestrian deaths occur in preventable accidents. The accidents are typically caused by distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding, and other types of aggressive driving, such as trying to beat a changing traffic light. An inattentive driver may fail to see a pedestrian in the path of a vehicle. The Newport Beach car accident lawyers of Sam & Ash, LLP can help you seek compensation for your medical bills and other losses if you have been hit by a negligent driver or lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident in California.

Pedestrian Traffic Fatality Statistics in California

The California Office of Traffic Safety (CA OTS) says the problem of pedestrians being killed or seriously injured on California roadways is reaching crisis proportions. State officials cite more than 14,000 pedestrians injured and 893 pedestrians killed on California roadways in a recent year.

California continues to tally the most annual pedestrian deaths of any state in the nation.

The GHSA’s preliminary estimate is that there were 958 pedestrian deaths in California in 2021, which is fewer than the 1,026 killed in 2020 and 1,020 struck down in 2019.

In a look at the nation’s 10 largest cities, the GHSA found these California statistics:

  • Los Angeles: 116 pedestrian fatalities in 2020, 140 in 2019, and 123 in 2018.
  • San Diego: 33 in 2020, 42 in 2019, and 45 in 2018 — a three-year decline.
  • San Jose: 21 in 2020, 31 in 2019, and 22 in 2018.

The GHSA says the COVID-19 pandemic may account for the drop in pedestrian deaths in several large cities in 2020. “It is important to note that many of the cities with longer and more cautious public health restrictions, such as those in California, saw a relatively large drop in pedestrian fatalities for 2020 as compared to 2019,” the report says.

Unfortunately, pedestrian deaths in California continue in 2022. Some recent reports include:

Tips for Pedestrians To Stay Safe

California’s Office of Traffic Safety offers these tips for pedestrians:

  • Don’t assume drivers see you.

You should keep an eye out for larger vehicles at intersections. Autoblog, an automotive news and car shopping website, recently wrote about a study published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, indicating that certain pedestrian accidents are more likely to involve SUVs, pickups, vans, and minivans.

The study found that:

  • When turning left at an intersection, SUVs were twice as likely as cars to hit a pedestrian, vans were three times as likely, and pickup trucks were four times as likely.
  • When turning right, the odds of a crash that kills a crossing pedestrian are 89% higher for pickups and 63% higher for SUVs than for cars.
  • At other locations, SUVs and pickups were associated with 51% and 25% greater odds, respectively, of killing a pedestrian walking or running along the road. Larger vehicles and walking-along-the-road crashes are both more common in rural areas.

Larger vehicles, such as pickup trucks and SUVs, allow less visibility in several driving scenarios when compared to smaller cars, which sit lower to the ground, Autoblog points out.

“It’s possible that the size, shape, or location of the A-pillars that support the roof on either side of the windshield could make it harder for drivers of these larger vehicles to see crossing pedestrians when they are turning,” said IIHS Senior Transportation Engineer Wen Hu.

As stated above: don’t assume drivers can see you.

Contact Our Pedestrian Accident Lawyers in Orange County, CA

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, reach out to Sam & Ash, LLP for experienced legal help. Our Orange County pedestrian accident attorneys will review the details of the accident and help you understand your legal options for holding the driver who hit you accountable. Our firm represents residents of Newport Beach and Southern California. We have the skills and the resources to fight for What’s Right for you.

Contact us today for a free consultation. We’re available 24/7 to take your call.