At some point in the day, everyone is a pedestrian. While pedestrian fatalities remain high, there was a 1.7% decrease in the number of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in 2017, totaling 5,977 deaths, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States. This averages to one crash-related pedestrian death every 1.5 hours, according to the CDC.
Additionally, almost 129,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal crash-related injuries in 2015. Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be killed in a car crash on each trip, according to the CDC.
When the number of deaths and serious injuries is divided by the total number of miles travelled by all people using that form of transport, cyclists are far more at risk than car drivers. In 2015, there were 43 more cyclists than car drivers killed or seriously hurt per billion miles travelled.
Decreasing the risk of cycling crashes
There are two main types of crashes: the most common (falls), and the most serious (the ones with cars). Regardless of the reason for the crash, prevention is the name of the game. There are things you can do to decrease your risk of a crash. First, know some bicycle safety facts:
- Regardless of the season, bicyclist deaths occurred most often between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- Bicyclist deaths occur most often in urban areas (75%) compared to rural areas (25%) in 2017.
- Bicyclist deaths were 8 times higher for males than females in 2017.
- Alcohol was involved in 37% of all fatal bicyclist crashes in 2017.
Ride responsibly, and remember: All states require bicyclists on the roadway to follow the same rules and responsibilities as motorists.
- Ride a bike that fits you—if it’s too big, it’s harder to control the bike.
- Ride a bike that works—it really doesn’t matter how well you ride if the brakes don’t work.
- Wear equipment to protect you and make you more visible to others, like a bike helmet, bright clothing (during the day), reflective gear, and a white front light and red rear light and reflectors on your bike (at night, or when visibility is poor).
- Ride one per seat, with both hands on the handlebars, unless signaling a turn.
- Carry all items in a backpack or strapped to the back of the bike.
- Tuck and tie your shoe laces and pant legs so they don’t get caught in your bike chain.
- Plan your route—if driving as a vehicle on the road, choose routes with less traffic and slower speeds. Your safest route may be away from traffic altogether, in a bike lane or on a bike path.
National Bike Month
May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to giving biking a try.
National Bike to Work Week 2019 occurred May 13–19. Bike to Work Day was Friday, May 17.
As a national sponsor, the League provides resources to help you plan an event in your area, and each year the number and diversity of Bike Month celebrations continues to grow, accelerating the momentum around bicycling nationwide.
Your basic bike check
- A is for Air
- B is for Brakes
- C is for cranks and chain
- Quick is for quick releases
- Check is for check it over
- Helmet Fit
- Helmet Adjustment
WHAT TO WEAR
- Everyday Clothes
- Cold Weather
- Long Rides
- Frame Size
- Seat Height
- Seat Angle
- Seat Design
- How To
SHARE THE TRAIL
- Announce when passing
- Yield when entering and crossing
- Keep Right
- Pass on Left
- Be Predictable
- Use Lights at Night
- Do not block the trail
- Clean up litter
10 walking safety tips
- Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
- If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
- Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
- Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians. Look for cars in all directions, including those turning left or right.
- If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
- Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.
- Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and your judgment.
Who is most at risk?
Pedestrians ages 65 and older accounted for 20% of all pedestrian deaths in 2016 and an estimated 15% of all pedestrians injured in 2015.
In 2016, one in every five children under the age of 15 who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.
Drivers and pedestrians who are alcohol-impaired
Almost half (48%) of crashes that resulted in pedestrian deaths involved alcohol for the driver or the pedestrian. One in every three (33%) of fatal pedestrian crashes involved a pedestrian with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) and 13% involved a driver with a BAC of at least 0.08 g/dL.1
Additional risk factors
Additionally, higher vehicle speeds increase both the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck by a car and the severity of injury.
Most pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas, non-intersection locations, and at night.