U.S. pedestrian and bicyclist deaths rose in 2018 despite an overall drop in traffic fatalities of 1% in 2018 to 36,750, according to a preliminary report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Last year, pedestrian deaths were projected please to rise 4% and bicyclist deaths by 10%. However, the overall traffic fatality rate was projected to drop to 1.14 deaths per 100 million miles traveled as deaths fell to 36,750, the lowest rate since 2014.
Pedestrian deaths accounted for 16% of all U.S traffic deaths in 2017, up from 12% in 2009. NHTSA officials said they couldn’t put their finger on precisely caused the jump in pedestrian and bicyclist deaths.
The agency investigated the role of distracted drivers in overall U.S. traffic deaths but found it difficult to get an accurate picture of all distracted crashes because of the unwillingness of individuals to acknowledge they were distracted.
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NHTSA said in 2017 there were 599 pedestrians, bicyclists, and others outside vehicles killed in “distraction-affected” crashes. The agency counts fatalities as any death resulting from a crash within 30 days of the incident.
The increases in deaths among pedestrians and bicyclists come after a 1.7% decline in pedestrian deaths in 2017 to 5,977 and an 8% decline in bicyclist deaths to 783. The numbers are higher in larger cities, NHTSA noted.
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In New York, pedestrian deaths accounted for 46% of the city’s 207 traffic deaths in 2017, while 60% of the 15 traffic deaths in San Francisco were pedestrians.
Overall, traffic deaths in urban areas are up 17% since 2008, while they’ve fallen 18% in rural areas.
Deaths of people inside vehicles, which in 1996 accounted for an all-time high of 80% of all traffic deaths, has fallen to 67% in 2017. The 33% outside vehicles figure includes pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.
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The fatality rate and number of deaths is down dramatically from 2007, when 41,259 people were killed and 1.36 deaths per 100 million miles were recorded.