Feb. 28 (UPI) -- A new statistical report Thursday said the number of pedestrians killed in U.S. motor vehicle crashes last year rose to its highest level in nearly three decades.
The Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit association representing highway safety offices, said in its report crashes killed 6,227 people in 2018, the highest number since 1990.
Richard Retting of Sam Schwartz Consulting authored the report based on preliminary data provided by highway safety offices in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their statistics for the first six months of 2018, adjusted based on historical trends, projects a yearly increase of 250 deaths over 2017.
Before last year, pedestrian deaths increased 35 percent in the 10 years between 2008 and 2017.
"While we have made progress reducing fatalities among many other road users in the past decade, pedestrian deaths have risen 35 percent," GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said. "The alarm bells continue to sound on this issue; it's clear we need to fortify our collective efforts to protect pedestrians and reverse the trend."
As sport-utility vehicles have become more popular, the number of deaths involving SUVs increased at a faster rate, 50 percent, from 2013 to 2017. Those involving passenger cars increased by 30 percent over the same period.
A sharp increase in smartphone use also coincided with the 10-year rise, but the report said there's not enough evidence to show a definitive link.
"This may be due in part to the inability of police crash investigators to accurately capture momentary distraction caused by smartphones, many of which are mounted on vehicle dashboards and windshields," the report states.
The data estimates five states -- Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas -- accounted for 46 percent of all pedestrian deaths in 2018.