The most surefire way to get killed in a traffic crash in the District is to cross the street, according to crash fatality data released by D.C. police this week.
Peggy Ruth Dickie, 79, was crossing Calvert Street NW near the U.S. Naval Observatory in June, police said, when a turning car struck and killed her.
Emebet Kebede, 56, had just left work at United Medical Center in Southeast Washington in August when, police said, a speeding car killed her as she crossed Southern Avenue SE.
Leroy Barnes, 62, was crossing Sargent Street NE last month when he died after two vehicles hit him, according to police.
District traffic statistics show that in the past six years, 58 pedestrians have died when they were hit by vehicles. The number of drivers or passengers who died during the same period — 2009 to 2014 — is 51.
The number of pedestrian deaths stood out among crash fatality data released this week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Although overall crash deaths across the country declined to the lowest level on record in 2014 — 32,675 deaths — the number of pedestrians killed by cars increased by 3.1 percent, to 4,884.
“What has been going on is that we’ve seen increases in the vulnerable population, pedestrians and bicyclists,” being killed, said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “The 2015 numbers look like they could be increasing.”
Preliminary data for the first six months of this year show that deaths of pedestrians may be up more than 10 percent over the same period last year, despite several federally supported incentive programs to protect walkers.
“That’s a number that tells you we have to increase our focus on this,” Rosekind said. “Efforts have begun, but clearly we need to push them faster and harder.”
Traffic fatality data compiled from District records by AAA found that overall deaths have generally declined over the past 20 years. In 1995, there were 62 traffic deaths. The number peaked at 72 killed in 2001. It reached a 20-year low of 19 in 2012 and rose to 29 and then 26 in the next two years.
In the past six years, the number of pedestrian deaths has rivaled or exceeded the number who died while driving or riding in a vehicle.
“The crash data trends reveal that traffic deaths, near misses with death and road traffic injuries in the city are preventable,” AAA spokesman John B. Townsend II said.