While traffic fatalities for people riding in motor vehicles remained near the same level, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports a three-decade high in pedestrian deaths in 2018.

The GHSA estimates 6,590 pedestrians died, a 5% increase over 2017 when 6,227 deaths were reported. The group says pedestrian fatalities have increased by 50% over the past decade, reversing a downward trend that continued until 2009.

Kentucky reports more than 1,000 pedestrian collisions

The Kentucky State Police report 79 pedestrians died in 2018 in 78 fatal crashes. The agency reported 1,024 pedestrian collisions resulting in:

  • 170 serious injuries
  • 372 suspected minor injuries
  • 320 possible injuries

Pedestrians suffer more catastrophic injuries

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says an estimated 137,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2017 for nonfatal crash-related injuries. Pedestrians commonly suffer from:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Pelvic fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Cuts, bruises and lacerations

Distracted drivers and cellphone use partially to blame

The GHSA points to many factors causing the significant increase in pedestrian collisions over the past three decades, including changing economic situations, population growth, warmer temperatures and lower fuel prices leading to people driving more, and they emphasize these takeaways:

  • Distracted driving has significantly increased and is related to the growth of smartphone use
  • People are buying larger vehicles, such as SUVs, which cause more severe injuries
  • Pedestrian fatalities at night increased by 67% from 2009 to 2018
  • Daytime fatalities rose by 16% during the same period
  • Nearly half of all deaths are related to alcohol use by the driver or pedestrian

GHSA urges states to step up efforts to protect vulnerable road users

The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety reports 14 pedestrians have died so far this year, but the GHSA says the Bluegrass State is developing an action plan. The state is implementing Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) to educate drivers and pedestrians to prevent deaths and serious injuries.