Even as overall traffic fatalities decrease, newly released 2011 data shows it's becoming more dangerous to be a pedestrian. According to the DOT's National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 4,432 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2011. Pedestrians were among the few categories of road users where deaths rose, accounting for 14 percent of total traffic fatalities in 2011, up three percent from 2010.
"We continue to see high rates of pedestrian fatalities in major cities and across every demographic,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.
Some details culled from the newly-released 2011 data: seventy percent of pedestrians killed were male, and nearly three out of four pedestrian deaths occurred in urban environments (73%), at non-intersections (70%), and during the nighttime (70%).
Alcohol involvement — either for the driver or for the pedestrian — was reported in 48 percent of traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities. And "pedestrians ages 25-34 who were killed had the highest percentage of alcohol impairment at 50 percent."
The government's "Safety in Numbers" newsletter shied away from pointing fingers, but indicated there was plenty of blame to go around. "What we know is that pedestrians and drivers do not obey laws and signals consistently," reads the most recent newsletter, "and many often use cell phones and music players while walking or driving."
The DOT is awarding $2 million in grants to 22 "focus cities" where pedestrian deaths are greater than the national average (the list of eligible cities is below), and unveiling a website meant to be a pedestrian safety resource for local governments, advocates, and educators.
DOT Pedestrian Focus Cities (map here)
California: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Stockton
Florida: Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando
Louisiana: New Orleans
Missouri: St. Louis
New Jersey: Newark
New York: New York City
Texas: Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio