While the number of people killed in car accidents has been on a fairly steady downward track in the past six years, the number of pedestrians killed by vehicles has gone in the other direction, and the primary reason is easy to grasp.
Drivers have all sorts of new protection — air bags foremost among them — while pedestrians remain as vulnerable as ever.
Data compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Association and released Thursday estimated the 2014 pedestrian death toll will almost mirror that of the year before. The glimmer of local good news in the figures is that pedestrian deaths fell somewhat in the District, Virginia and Maryland.
Pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2014 decreased from seven to five in the District, when compared with 2013. In Maryland, they dropped from 55 to 45. In Virginia, pedestrian fatalities declined from 36 to 35.
In the District, the report said, pedestrian fatalities account for 45 percent of all motor vehicle deaths.
The GHSA, a coalition of state roadway safety officials, made the projections based on data gathered from its members for the first six months of 2014. Those statistics will be supplied to federal authorities who track collision deaths.
“While we’re encouraged that pedestrian fatalities haven’t increased over the past two years, progress has been slow,” said Jonathan Adkins, GHSA’s executive director.
The statistics were analyzed for the GHSA by Allan Williams, a former top analyst for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. He said 2,125 pedestrians were killed nationwide in the first half of 2014, compared with 2,141 the previous year.
In all of 2008, the number of pedestrian deaths was 4,414.
Williams said pedestrian deaths have dropped dramatically since the 1970s. But as driver/passenger deaths have decreased in recent years, the percentage of fatalities to pedestrians has increased.
More than 40 percent of all pedestrian deaths in 2013 occurred in four states, Williams said: New York, California, Florida and Texas.Nationwide, pedestrians 70 and older continue to have the highest per capita death rate.