Traffic fatalities increased 8.1% in 2015 from the previous year, per a National Safety Council study cited by Autoblog, but one group has been especially affected: pedestrians, who are projected to show a 10% increase in fatalities compared to 2014, per a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. That would be the largest year-over-year jump since the Fatality Analysis Reporting System began in 1975, a press release notes. "This is a dark day in the history of pedestrian safety," Richard Retting, one of the study's co-authors, tells Autoblog. "It's troubling news, particularly in an era when many cities and states are putting a big emphasis on eliminating (fatalities) all together. … We're seeing a startling increase."
The "Spotlight on Highway Safety" report, based on preliminary data from the highway safety agencies in every state and DC, notes the chances of being injured while on foot depend on where one lives: Four states—California, Florida, New York, and Texas—claimed 42% of the pedestrian deaths, for example, while Arizona, Delaware, and Florida had the highest pedestrian death rates based on population. As for the reasons for the spike, the report suggests possible factors such as more travel by motor vehicles (especially as the economy has gotten better and gas prices have dipped), more people using cellphones while they drive and stroll, and more people walking overall to save money, their health, or the environment. "We look forward to working with the [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] and our other partners to drive down these numbers and move toward zero deaths," the director of the GHSA says. (Here are 10 cities that aren't great for walkers.)