North Carolina Seeing Steady Increase in Pedestrian Deaths
North Carolina has seen a steady increase in tragic pedestrian fatalities during the last decade, a trend that mirrors statistics around the country. So far, it has been difficult for officials to identify a definitive reason for the increase.
In 2018, a total of 228 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in North Carolina. This represents a 13.4 percent increase from 2017. The rate of pedestrian deaths in the state has steadily risen each year since 2009, when the total pedestrian fatalities hit a low of 148. Since then, the rate of pedestrian fatalities in North Carolina has outpaced population growth by more than five times, increasing by 54 percent.
Rising pedestrian fatalities is a problem around the U.S., according to data released in 2019 by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA). GHSA estimated when it released its report that final figures for 2018 would be the highest in 28 years in terms of pedestrian deaths. The total pedestrian fatalities it predicted nationally at the time for 2018 was 6,227.
As officials have watched the troubling trend, they have struggled to identify an explanation. GHSA opined that the increase in pedestrian deaths might be due to more distracted driving and larger vehicles on the roads. Larger, heavier vehicles tend to cause more serious or fatal injuries.
Of the 228 fatalities in North Carolina in 2018, close to 80 percent of the accidents happened at night, typically during the hours of 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. Most fatalities also occurred in urban areas, rather than rural areas of the state. By county, Mecklenburg County by far had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities at 37. Next, was Wake County with 16 pedestrian fatalities.
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