Report: Pedestrian fatalities at 25-year high

There is no doubt that distracted driving continues to be a huge problem in the U.S. Whether it’s on city streets, rural highways or interstates, drivers continue to fail to put down their phones. A new report out shows that our addiction to screen time continues to have deadly consequences for pedestrians.

According to the report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, there were nearly 6,000 pedestrians killed across the United States in 2017. While that’s not much different from 2016’s numbers, the last two years represent a 25-year high in pedestrian deaths across the country.

Is distracted driving to blame?

The most alarming thing about the high numbers is that most other types of pedestrian deaths are decreasing. You can attribute much of this to vehicles built to better withstand crashes and protect drivers and passengers. Pedestrians, however, remain exposed.

One reason behind the large increase over the last several years is the prevalence of distracted driving. When you are out, whether as a pedestrian, driver or passenger, take a look around when you are at a red light. It’s likely you will see someone looking down at their phone. If a driver is texting while driving, and a pedestrian crossing the street isn’t looking up either, you have a recipe for disaster.

While many states are passing laws to try and crack down on texting and calling while driving, it does not appear that pedestrians are any safer.

What pedestrians can do to protect themselves

It may be easy to think that since Lancaster isn’t a huge city with jammed streets that you are safe, but no pedestrian should ever take their safety for granted. You should never be looking at your phone while crossing the street. Always keep your eyes on vehicles approaching a crosswalk, even if you have the walk sign.

The report also notes that in 33 percent of pedestrian deaths last year, the pedestrian was legally drunk. If you’ve had one too many, maybe consider using a designated driver, taxi or ride-sharing service to get home safely.