Cities Struggle with Pedestrian Safety Amid Rise in Larger Vehicles

Pedestrian deaths fell by 5.4% in 2023 but remain 14% higher than pre-pandemic levels. Learn about the factors contributing to this trend and what can be done to improve safety.

Cities Struggle with Pedestrian Safety Amid Rise in Larger Vehicles
Photo by Pavel Anoshin / Unsplash

Pedestrian traffic deaths saw a 5.4% decline in 2023, but the numbers are still troublingly high compared to pre-pandemic levels. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reports that 7,318 pedestrians lost their lives last year, marking a 14.1% increase from 2019. Notably, light-duty trucks are a significant factor in these fatalities, accounting for over half of the deaths where the vehicle type was identified.

Cities Struggle with Rising Pedestrian Deaths Despite Efforts

Despite efforts like Complete Streets policies and Vision Zero initiatives, pedestrian deaths remain elevated. The GHSA attributes this to reduced traffic enforcement, dangerous driving behaviors, and an increase in larger vehicles like SUVs and trucks. The report highlights that urban areas, particularly at night and in places lacking sidewalks, are the most dangerous for pedestrians.

We know how to improve safety for people walking – more infrastructure, vehicles designed to protect people walking, lower speeds and equitable traffic enforcement.

Pedestrian Safety: Challenges Persist Despite Decline in Fatalities

While the GHSA's report shows a decline in pedestrian deaths for 2023, the numbers are still higher than pre-pandemic levels. Efforts to reduce these fatalities, including infrastructure improvements and better vehicle design, need to be intensified. Cities like Phoenix, Austin, and Los Angeles have seen significant increases in pedestrian deaths, underscoring the need for more robust and equitable traffic enforcement.

Pedestrian traffic deaths declined in 2023 but remain above pre-pandemic levels
Cities in Texas and California were among those seeing increases in pedestrian deaths from 2020 to 2022, the Governors Highway Safety Association said.