Michigan sees sharp drop in pedestrian traffic fatalities in 2018

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The number of pedestrians killed on U.S. roads last year was the highest in 28 years, according to a report from a safety organization.

Using data reported by states, the Governors Highway Safety Associationestimates that 6,227 pedestrians were killed last year. That's up 4 percent from 2017 and 35 percent since 2008.

The association blames the increase on factors that include distracted or impaired drivers, more people walking to work, and more SUVs on the road, which cause more severe injuries in collisions with people on foot.

However, in Michigan, fatalities were down 19 percent year-to-year. The state reported 58 fatalities in 2018, compared to 72 in 2017.

Other notable findings:

  • Along with the increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities, pedestrian deaths as a percentage of total motor vehicle crash deaths increased from 12 percent in 2008 to 16 percent in both 2016 and 2017. This is due to the simultaneous trends of increasing numbers of pedestrian deaths and general declines in the number of occupant fatalities. Declines in occupant deaths are attributed in part to steady enhancements in vehicle crashworthiness and crash avoidance technology, whereas by contrast, pedestrians remain just as susceptible to sustaining serious or fatal injuries when struck by a motor vehicle.
  • About 75 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur after dark, and increases in pedestrian fatalities are occurring largely at night. From 2008 to 2017 the number of nighttime pedestrian fatalities increased by 45 percent, compared to a much smaller, 11 percent increase in daytime pedestrian fatalities.
  • About 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur on local streets and state highways.
  • The majority of pedestrian fatalities occur at non-intersection locations.
  • Pedestrians struck by a large SUV are twice as likely to die as those struck by car.

"While we have made progress reducing fatalities among many other road users in the past decade, pedestrian deaths have risen 35 percent," Jonathan Adkins, the association's executive director, said in a statement issued Thursday. "The alarm bells continue to sound on this issue."

The report also called for law enforcement and safety education campaigns to make sure drivers and walkers can safely coexist, as well as for road safety audits.

It said that 23 states saw declines in pedestrian deaths during the first half of last year, with six states reporting double-digit drops.

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