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Pedestrians and cyclists killed by cars

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Numbers for 2022 are now available.

Pedestrian fatalities are up again, the highest levels we’ve seen in 40 years—and a nearly 70 percent increase since 2011.
In 2022, 7,522 pedestrians were struck and killed by cars. This is roughly the equivalent of:

  • The population of a small town, say Buena Vista, Colorado. 
  • The student population of Gonzaga University. 
  • More than three Boeing 737s falling from the sky every month for a year.

It’s not just deaths that are going up. In 2022 the number of pedestrians injured by traffic violence increased 11 percent over 2021. And while the numbers alone should move us into action, they do not tell the whole story. Each number represents a life of vital members of our community. A mom, dad, sister, brother… a child.

I was in Buena Vista this morning, and that’s an odd mistake, as the population of the town is less than 3,000.

But the increase in pedestrian deaths over the past dozen years is really startling. Some obvious factors include bigger SUVs and the like with poor sight profiles, texting while driving, poor urban and suburban traffic design, and — this last one is impressionistic — increasing disregard for traffic laws, especially during the Covid epidemic and its aftermath.

Pedestrian fatality rates tend to be a lot higher in the South and the Southwest. The reasons are unknown, although there’s a lot of speculation.

If anything, the news on the cycling front is even more dire, in that the total number of cyclists killed by cars is now at an all-time high, or at least since comprehensive stats started being collected in 1975. Note a couple of things in the charts at the link: Deaths of children hit by cars while bike riding have declined dramatically, but those of adults have increased several fold. Note also the huge gender split in the data.

It remains a remarkable sociological fact that American society has always been and still is more or less completely blase about tends of thousands of deaths a year caused by driving, when a relative handful of deaths in other contexts can cause long-running moral panics.

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