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Study: U.S. saw record rise in pedestrians killed by vehicles in 2020, despite COVID-19

By
Don Johnson
At a March 19 rally outside the Hall of Justice in Los Angeles, Calif., relatives and community members call for justice in the death of Monique Munoz, a 32-year-old woman who was killed by a speeding vehicle on her way home from work a month earlier. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
At a March 19 rally outside the Hall of Justice in Los Angeles, Calif., relatives and community members call for justice in the death of Monique Munoz, a 32-year-old woman who was killed by a speeding vehicle on her way home from work a month earlier. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

May 20 (UPI) -- The number of pedestrians killed in vehicle crashes in the United States last year climbed by a record amount, despite unprecedented restrictions and lockdown measures brought on by COVID-19, according to a safety report.

The 33-page assessment by the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents multiple highway safety agencies, says the pedestrian fatality rate rose about 21% in 2020, the greatest annual increase on record.

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The increase, to 2.3 per billion vehicle miles traveled, occurred despite Americans overall driving fewer miles during the coronavirus pandemic.

The preliminary data analysis showed there were 6,700 pedestrian deaths in 2020, a rise of 5% over 2019.

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The data is based on reporting by state highway safety offices nationwide. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began keeping records of pedestrian deaths in 1975.

The report notes certain trends that have affected the rise in pedestrian deaths, which include more reckless driving behaviors and more sales of sport-utility vehicles that cause injuries and death to pedestrians.

The GHSA also noted that impaired driving, distracted driving and speeding were factors in the increase in 2020. Most of the deadly crashes occurred away from intersections and at night.

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"Reckless driving was really impacting pedestrian safety during the pandemic and that is mind boggling to us because we know that vehicle miles traveled dropped," GHSA spokeswoman Pam Shadel Fischer told ABC News.

The report notes the highest increases in pedestrian deaths last year were seen in Kansas, Vermont, Rhode Island, Alaska and South Dakota. States with the greatest decreases in deaths were Maine, Hawaii, Delaware, West Virginia and Massachusetts.

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