• April 6th, 2021

In 2019, the number of U.S. pedestrian deaths declined about 1% compared to 2018. This small but welcome decline followed an unprecedented 55% increase in pedestrian deaths from 2009 to 2018. Despite this small recent decrease, pedestrian fatalities recorded in 2018 and 2019 have not been this high since 1990.

For the first six months of 2020, preliminary data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia
(D.C.) indicate 2020 deaths are largely on pace with the high levels of 2019, despite large
reductions in motor vehicle travel associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Key findings from
analysis of this preliminary data found that:

  • For the first six months of 2020, GHSA projects 2,957 pedestrian fatalities, which closely mirrors the number of pedestrian fatalities reported for the first six months of 2019 (2,951).
  • In addition, GHSA projects a pedestrian fatality rate of 1.9 per 100,000 population for January through December 2020, which would be a slight reduction from the 2019 pedestrian fatality rate of 2.0 per 100,000 population.
  • On a mileage-driven basis, however, GHSA projects a 20% increase in the pedestrian fatality rate per one billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for the first half of 2020 compared with the first half of 2019.
  • States reported a range of changes in the number of pedestrian fatalities in the first half of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019:
    • 27 states had increases in pedestrian fatalities
    • 20 states and D.C. had decreases
    • 3 states had no change
  • States differ widely in fatality numbers:
    • The projected number of pedestrian deaths for the first half of 2020 ranged from one in Vermont to 485 in California.
    • Seven states — Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina and Texas — accounted for more than half (54%) of all pedestrian deaths.
    • New Mexico had the highest rate of pedestrian deaths per resident population, while Vermont had the lowest.
  • States use various combinations of engineering, enforcement and education countermeasures to address pedestrian safety, including focused enforcement in conjunction with public outreach and education.

Many factors outside the control of state and local traffic safety officials contribute to annual changes in the number of pedestrian fatalities, including the economy, population growth, demographic changes, weather, fuel prices, vehicle miles traveled (VMT), the amount of time people spend walking and the overall resources available to support highway safety programs.