Pedestrian safety is going in the wrong direction nationally. In Dallas County, the situation appears to be worse.
A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association shows the number of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents went up 35 percent from 2008 to 2017. Based on projections from data from the first six months of 2018, GHSA estimates that national pedestrian fatalities will reach their largest annual total since 1990.
The trend isn’t consistent across the country; 23 states enjoyed decreases last year and two remained the same.
Dig in close to home, however, and the picture is dreary. Since 2010, pedestrian fatalities in Dallas County have doubled, according to data supplied by the Texas Department of Transportation. As of the end of July, Dallas is on pace for about 91 fatalities in 2019. That would be a jump of 19 year-over-year; we recorded 72 one year ago. Here’s every year since 2010, courtesy of TxDOT:
2019: 53 (as of 7/31/19)
GHSA cites several factors that could be driving up pedestrian deaths: economic conditions, population growth, demographic changes, weather conditions, fuel prices, vehicle miles traveled, and the time people are spending on foot. SUVs are proving an outsized contributor to fatal pedestrian accidents. And much of the increase over the last decade has come in the nighttime hours. Those have increased by 45 percent compared to daytime pedestrian fatalities, which are up 11 percent. Finally, there’s the increase in smartphone use, a distraction for walkers and drivers alike.
If the takeaway that Dallas has some work to do when it comes to catering to walkers feels familiar, well, duh. But also, it could be because the data has started to stack up. A study earlier this year called “Dangerous by Design” ranked Dallas-Fort Worth the fourth-worst place to walk in Texas, finding that 1,037 people were struck and killed over a decade ending in 2017. Not great.
The increases are occurring alongside declining rates in traffic deaths in crashes that do not involve pedestrians.