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Pedestrian deaths reach highest numbers since 1981 – and an action to end this trend

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The threat for pedestrians is real and rising – far outpacing other traffic deaths

Last week, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released their preliminary data for pedestrian deaths in 2022.

The GHSA projects that drivers struck and killed at least 7,508 people walking in 2022 – the highest number since 1981 and an average of 20 pedestrian deaths every day. The GHSA projects that the total number of pedestrian deaths could reach as high as 8,126 once it receives additional data, which would be the first time the number of fatalities surpassed 8,000 since 1980.

As the chart below illustrates, pedestrian deaths are far outpacing other traffic deaths. And pedestrian death rates are rising no matter how you look at them, including the number of deaths per 100,000 people and as a percentage of vehicle miles traveled.

California had the highest number of pedestrian deaths in 2022 of any state, with 1,100 people killed.

The report identifies a range of contributing factors to pedestrian deaths, with three that especially reflect the challenges we face here in San Francisco when walking: dangerous driving behavior (especially speeding); poor street design; and the growing size, weight, and power of many vehicles.

Many solutions are needed to address these factors sufficiently to keep us all safe – and this is what Walk SF pushes for every day with the support of our members.

That’s why we must alert you to something crucial happening at the national level.

A chance to shape federal policy to make vehicles safer for pedestrians (yes, you read that right)

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Association (NHTSA) is overhauling its safety rating system for vehicles and *may* add pedestrian safety tests to its New Car Assessment Program for the first time ever.

But – and this makes no sense – the NHTSA does not plan to use those pedestrian safety tests as part of the “five-star” car rating system. In fact, under the current proposal, a vehicle could receive a failing grade for pedestrian crashworthiness, but still earn a five-star safety rating.

Also, the current proposal fails to evaluate limited driver visibility, a known safety flaw for larger vehicles (which are the vast majority of vehicles purchased today and pose a huge threat to pedestrians). Read more in Streetsblog USA.

NHTSA is accepting public comments via email on its proposal through July 25, 2023.

We need to say what they’re proposing is unacceptable, and our friends at America Walks made it easy for you to do.

The need for San Francisco to lead is more urgent than ever

20 people are dying every day while simply walking.

As I sit with this fact and think about the role of Walk SF and people like you who want safe streets, it’s clear we need our city to lead not just to protect all of us here, but to light the path for cities around the country.

If San Francisco can turn things around with traffic safety, it will be noticed – and mimicked – in many more places, saving many more lives. And Walk SF exists with your help to push for the solutions to keep us all safe when walking. Onward!

Support Walk SF’s mission today and push San Francisco to lead the nation in safe streets for everyone who walks, of every age and ability.