Pedestrian deaths are on the rise – and most are men

Worldwide, pedestrians account for 30% of the 1 million people who die in traffic crashes every year.

For 2010 – the last full year for which national data is available – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that 4,280 pedestrians died in traffic accidents, a 4% increase from the previous year. 69% of the fatalities were males.

Newly-released data from the journal Injury Prevention found that:

  • Men and women in the U.S. walked about the same distance each day.
  • Pedestrian crashes are evenly divided between males and females.
  • Yet, men struck by cars are nearly 2.5 times as likely as women to die as a result of the crash.

The study’s authors could not directly identify the reasons for this huge discrepancy. A few possibilities:

  • Are men taking more risks when they walk? Are they more likely to walk along dangerous streets or highways, or more likely to try to cross traffic in front of cars traveling at a higher rate of speed?
  • Is the time of day a factor? Men may be more apt to walk alone after dark, making them less visible to drivers.
  • Is alcohol more likely to be a factor for male pedestrians? 2012 was a particularly deadly year for pedestrians in Oregon, with one of the highest fatality rates on record. The Oregon Department of Transportation claims alcohol was a big factor for both drivers and walkers.

The new information from the study raises a lot of questions about how to reduce pedestrian deaths. When you walk anywhere, remember to be as visible as possible, use a crosswalk when you can, and keep looking both ways as you cross the street. Let’s hope 2013 is a better year for pedestrians.