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Why have pedestrian fatality rates reached the highest in years?

Walking can serve as a means of exercise, a form of transportation and a way to reduce carbon footprint, especially in Tucson, where the weather is warm all year round. Despite its many benefits, walking has become increasingly dangerous over the years.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, pedestrian deaths are at the highest they have been in 25 years and increased by 27 percent in approximately the last decade. Arizona was one of five states that made up for nearly half of those fatalities in the first half of 2017. Its rate of deaths per resident population was also the highest out of the entire nation.

Reasons for the increase

One of the causes for the rising numbers is cellphone usage, both on the part of motorists and pedestrians. Whether people are on the street or sidewalk, electronic devices distract users' awareness of surroundings and hazards. It only takes a couple seconds of looking at a phone for an accident to occur.

Other relevant factors

Even without cellphones, accidents and deaths would still happen. Pedestrian fatalities tend to occur most under the following circumstances, reveals the CDC:

  • The driver or walker was drunk.
  • It was dark.
  • The motorist was speeding.
  • It was in an urban area, where there is more traffic.
  • The pedestrian did not cross at the intersection.

Another common cause is when either party did not follow right-of-way laws.

Prevention tips

Pedestrians can stay safe despite the odds by taking precautionary measures, such as staying alert, using crosswalks, wearing bright clothing and knowing traffic laws. When no sidewalk is available, pedestrians should walk facing traffic. For areas that lack intersections or crosswalks, it is important to choose a well-lit place to cross the street.

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