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Study highlights rising pedestrian deaths, points toward solutions

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A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows pedestrian involved car accidents have become deadlier and more frequent in recent years. 

The research, which involved pedestrian crash data from 2009 to 2016 shows a significant uptick in the number of fatalities and points toward solutions.

It can happen in an instant.. A pedestrian struck while darting across traffic.

Pedestrian deaths have jumped 46 percent since reaching their lowest point in 2009.  A trend, David Harkey of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says is going in the wrong direction.

"By the time we reached 2016, almost 6,000 individuals were losing their lives as a result of being pedestrians," said Harkey.

The majority of accidents are happening in urban or suburban areas, along busy roadways away from intersections and often at night.

"One of the things we need to be aware of as roadway designers is the need to accommodate pedestrians," said Harkey. 

Among the solutions: improved lighting for pedestrians and more mid block cross-walks and crossing islands. The Insurance Institute says vehicles with front crash prevention systems that recognize pedestrians and better headlights will also save lives.

In the meantime, Harkey says there are things pedestrians can do to immediately to protect themselves.

"Not wearing dark clothing at night, possibly  including retro reflectivity as part of their clothing. All of these things are important and can make a difference."

The study found speed and vehicle design are also factors, with fatal crashes increasingly likely to involve larger SUVs and faster vehicles.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said distraction from electronic devices like cell phones are also part of the problem, but acknowledged there isn't enough data to make any definitive conclusions about their impact.

You can see the full study here.