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Drivers killed fewer pedestrians in 2023, except in Pennsylvania

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(The Center Square) — Pedestrian deaths are finally starting to drop across America to pre-pandemic levels.

Pennsylvania, however, bucked the national trend. Drivers killed 192 pedestrians in 2023, eight more than in 2022, and 25% more than in 2019, according to an analysis from the Governors Highway Safety Administration.

The report found that, across the country, drivers struck and killed more than 7,300 people in 2023. In total, it’s a drop of more than 5% compared to 2022, but still 14% higher than the 6,400 people killed by drivers in 2019.

Since then, light trucks have surpassed cars in the number of pedestrian fatalities. And though pedestrian deaths have crept up during the day since 2010, nighttime fatalities have jumped from about 3,000 to almost 5,800.

“A decline in pedestrian deaths offers hope that after years of rising fatalities a new trend is starting,” GHSA Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Adkins said in a press release. “Each death is tragic and preventable. We know how to improve safety for people walking – more infrastructure, vehicles designed to protect people walking, lower speeds and equitable traffic enforcement. It will take all this, and more, to keep the numbers going in the right direction.”

Pedestrian deaths aren’t evenly spread across the country. States in the northeast and Midwest tend to have lower fatalities per-capita while Southern and Western states have more. New Mexico, Texas, and Nevada had the highest per-capita fatality rate in 2023, while Nebraska, Minnesota, and Vermont had the lowest.

The updated report confirms the trend that the GHSA found in the spring. Pennsylvania was one of 21 states and the District of Columbia that saw pedestrian deaths increase. The commonwealth has struggled to reduce its pedestrian death toll, though PennDOT is working on federally-mandated requirements to target high-risk areas and make roads safer.

Pedestrian deaths have been a warning for America’s roads becoming more hazardous for all. Since 2010, pedestrian deaths have increased by a staggering 77% and all other traffic deaths have climbed by 22%.

Those deaths have increased even as Americans cut back on how much they walk.

“Research points to a drop in overall walking behavior since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the GHSA report noted. “Between 2019 and 2022, annual average daily walking trips fell by 36% nationwide. The fact that pedestrian fatalities have been trending upward between 2019 and 2022 despite a drop in pedestrian exposure should raise alarm bells among traffic safety advocates.”

On the same day that the GHSA published its report, Allentown recorded another pedestrian death when a driver killed Lackawanna County resident Li-Qiang Hu on Tuesday night.

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