It’s a scary world out there for pedestrians. A new study from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reveals that 2016 recorded nearly 6,000 pedestrian deaths, up 11 percent from 2015 and the highest total in 20 years. It’s an alarming trend, and the GHSA statistics show that fatalities between 2010 and 2015 were up 25 percent as well.
To put those figures into perspective, 2015 and 2014 recorded 5,376 and 4,910 fatalities, respectively. Delaware topped the list of most pedestrian deaths per capita in 2016, with Florida, Arizona, South Carolina, and New Mexico following suit.
The GHSA states that there were multiple reasons for the rise in fatalities, including increases in driver and pedestrian traffic, which they attribute to lower gas prices and people walking to improve their health. However, the GHSA believes that cellphone addiction was a big contributing factor. (As a side note, the popularity of Pokemon Go may not have helped matters.) Kara Macek, Senior Director of Communications and Programs for GHSA, told NBC News that people simply aren’t paying attention to the road:
“I think the fact that our frenzied pace of life and our frenzied need to stay in touch on our smartphones is certainly a contributing factor to a lot of these fatalities. When it comes to cell phone use and smart phones and our constant need to connect, it’s also just as important to disconnect from time to time. And one of those times is when you’re on the road.”
CNN notes that most of the fatalities happen at night, and only one in five occur at intersections. Traffic safety experts are working to solve this issue with more roundabouts and speed bumps to slow drivers down, but ultimately, people simply need to pay more attention.