Washington, D.C. – Pedestrian deaths increased slightly in the U.S. in the first six months of 2010, although traffic fatalities dropped by eight per cent during the same period. Although the increase was small, at 0.4 per cent, it comes on the heels of four straight years of steady declines in pedestrian fatalities.

The study by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), Spotlight on Safety: Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State, surveys preliminary fatality numbers for every state. For the first six months of 2010, there were 1,891 pedestrian fatalities overall, an increase of seven deaths from the same period in 2009. From 2005 to 2009, pedestrian deaths fell by an average of 200 per full year.

“Nationally, pedestrian fatalities account for about 12 per cent of overall traffic deaths, a small but significant portion,” said Vernon Betkey Jr., GHSA chairman. “Given that we have made so much progress in this area, GHSA is concerned to see this reversal. One factor may be the increased distractions for both pedestrians and drivers. Anyone who travels in a busy city has seen countless pedestrians engrossed in conversation or listening to music while crossing a busy street. Just as drivers need to focus on driving safely, pedestrians need to focus on walking safely, without distractions.”

States with the highest increases included Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon and North Carolina. Surprisingly, states with large cities and lots of pedestrians, including California, New York and Texas, had reductions in the number of pedestrian fatalities. The study noted that more than half of the pedestrians killed in 2010 were under the influence of intoxicants.

“Looking at our data, we are seeing pedestrians crossing mid-block instead of at crosswalks, pedestrians walking in the roadway, and even some walking in the travel lanes of the interstate,” said Troy Costales, GHSA vice-chairman. “We are familiar with aggressive drivers; we now have aggressive pedestrians.”

Connect with Autos.ca