Pedestrian deaths fell 16 percent in the first half of last year. But they're up dramatically in recent years. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com

Pedestrian deaths fall in Georgia — but don't celebrate yet

Pedestrian deaths in motor vehicle crashes fell 16 percent in Georgia in the first half of last year despite rising fatalities nationwide, a new report shows. 

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that 116 pedestrians died in motor vehicle crashes in Georgia in the first six months of 2019, down from 137 for the same period in 2018. Meanwhile, pedestrian deaths rose 3 percent to 3,015 for the same period nationwide. 

That sounds like great news. But hold the celebration. The long-term picture in Georgia is grim: Pedestrian deaths doubled between 2011 and 2018, according to data provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Richard Retting, the author of the association’s report. 

The report says many factors likely have contributed to the rise in pedestrian deaths across the country. Economic conditions, population growth and fuel prices all affect the number of people driving, and more cars on the road means more traffic accidents. The growing popularity of light trucks – which cause more trauma to pedestrians in crashes than smaller passenger vehicles – also is a factor. The decriminalization of marijuana in some states may also be deadly for some pedestrians. 

And, of course, distracted driving is a likely culprit. Retting said pedestrian deaths across the country began rising in 2009, just as smart phone sales were taking off. 

Retting said declining pedestrian fatalities in Georgia in the first half of 2019 may be just a blip in the long-term trend. And he said it’s too soon to say whether the state’s distracted driving law played a role in declining pedestrian deaths. 

You can read the full report here.

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About the Author

David Wickert
David Wickert
David Wickert writes about transportation issues for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He previously worked for newspapers in Washington state, Illinois...
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