Pedestrian traffic fatalities increased in 2021, continuing a trend over the past few years that has seen the rate of pedestrian deaths involving a vehicle reach historic highs. During that time, the number of pedestrian traffic fatalities also has increased far faster than other types of traffic-related deaths.
These crashes involve Vulnerable Road Users (VRU), defined as those on or near roadways who are not in a vehicle. They are unprotected by any type of outer shield, making them at far greater risk of injury in a collision with a vehicle.
The pedestrian traffic fatalities underscore the importance of driver training for both individual drivers and fleet drivers. Fleet managers can improve both the safety of their drivers and those of other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists by getting their drivers the training they need to improve behind-the-wheel performance.
A Steep Rise in VRU-Related Crashes
A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) highlights the steep rise in the number of crashes involving VRU. The report includes total pedestrian traffic fatalities across the nation and a state-by-state breakdown.
In 2021, the number of traffic-related pedestrian deaths per billion vehicle miles reached 2.32 nationwide. That’s a slight increase from 2.3 in 2020, but also well above the historic average of 1.9. Unfortunately, the report also found the rate of speeding-related pedestrian deaths involving those younger than 15 has doubled since 2018, from 5.8 percent to 11.9 percent.
Overall, traffic fatalities involving pedestrians increased 54 percent between 2010 and 2020, while all other traffic-related fatalities increased 13 percent.
State-By-State Pedestrian Traffic Death Numbers
If the estimates from the preliminary GHSA report are correct, the total number of pedestrian traffic fatalities nationwide in 2021 reached the highest number in 40 years. The report breaks down the numbers by state.
The nation’s largest state, California, actually saw a decrease between 2019 and 2021 of 62 less pedestrian traffic fatalities, or a drop of 6.6 percent. However, many others experienced an increase. Those states with the biggest increase in VRU-related fatalities between 2019 and 2021 included:
- Texas (164)
- Florida (154)
- Georgia (109)
- Indiana (61)
- Illinois (57)
- Louisiana (53)
- Ohio (48)
- New Jersey (45)
The Importance of Driver Training
The numbers from the GHSA report show the importance of having drivers trained on how to avoid collisions with pedestrians both on the roadway and in parking lots. For fleets, it not only makes the roads safer, but also reduces the risk of a collision that leads to nuclear verdicts against the company.
It’s especially an issue for fleets that operate in urban areas where pedestrian foot traffic is at its highest and the risk of a crash involving a VRU is higher than any other place.
Driving Dynamics offers drivers of company vehicles training that greatly reduces the risk of VRU-related and other types of crashes and collisions. Fleets have the option of using online courses, instructor-led virtual classes and in-person behind-the-wheel training. The result is safer roads for drivers and pedestrians, and better risk management for fleets.