For Peggy Dickie, the end came when she tried to cross a street during rush hour in Northwest Washington. For Betty Lou Vest, it was just before 8 p.m. near an intersection in Clarksburg, Md. For Irma Taracena, it was on a poorly lit road around 9:40 in Falls Church, Va.
All three pedestrians were among the scores killed in the Washington region and the 28,642 killed nationally between 2010 and 2015 after being struck by cars.
Pedestrian deaths soared by 25 percent during the period, far outpacing the 6 percent overall increase in traffic fatalities.
“Unfortunately, this latest data shows that the U.S. is not meeting the mark on keeping pedestrians safe on our roadways,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which detailed the pedestrian fatalities in a report released Thursday.
Pedestrians now account for 15 percent of all traffic deaths, according to the GHSA report.
The were several reasons for the increased pedestrian toll, the GHSA said.
With economic conditions improving and gas prices relatively low, more people are driving. Another contributing factor may be the use of smartphones — both by drivers and people on foot — which are a distraction.
Although 2015 was the most recent year for which final statistics were available, the GHSA used preliminary data for 2016 to estimate that the number of pedestrian deaths increased by 11 percent over 2015, with nearly 6,000 people killed in collisions with vehicles.
The GHSA is an organization of state highway safety officials, and the fatality reports they send to Washington are the basis for federal highway statistics.
“This is the second year in a row that we’ve seen unprecedented increases in pedestrian fatalities, which is both sad and alarming,” said Richard Retting, the consultant who wrote the GHSA report.
Retting said the report was intended to “help states and localities pursue engineering, enforcement and education solutions to reverse this trend.”
During the first six months of last year, states recorded 2,660 pedestrian fatalities — an increase from 2,486 deaths from the same time period in 2015.
Thirty-four states recorded more pedestrian fatalities in the first six months of 2016, including Virginia, with a jump to 50 deaths from 37 when compared with the same period in 2015.
Fifteen states — including Maryland and the District of Columbia — reported decreases, and one state had no change.
The report recommended several steps for state and local governments, many of which have been implemented in some jurisdictions. They include refuge islands on busy streets, pedestrian overpasses or tunnels, additional traffic signals, more-visible crosswalks, additional street lighting and flashing beacons at crosswalks.
Dozens of pedestrians die each year when hit by cars in the District and its suburbs. The following were just three of those deaths during the 2010-2015 period in the GHSA study.
June 16, 2015:
Peggy Dickie, 79, was struck by a truck at Calvert and 37th streets NW, near the U.S. Naval Observatory. Police said the truck stopped for a red light while traveling south on 37th Street, then turned and hit Dickie as she crossed Calvert Street from south to north.
March 19, 2015:
Betty Lou Vest, 67, of Clarksburg was struck about 7:45 p.m. by a 2002 Volkswagen Golf TDI near the intersection of North Frederick and Wims Roads as she attempted to cross the street in an area without a marked crosswalk.
October 17, 2014:
Irma Taracena, 61, was struck by a 1997 Toyota Camry as she crossed Leesburg Pike near Row Street in Falls Church about 9:45 p.m. Fairfax County police said the road where she was crossing is not well lit and that she was not in a crosswalk.
“Everyone walks, and we want to encourage that, but at the same time, we want to make sure that we all get to our destinations safely,” Adkins said.