2021 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Fact Sheet: Pedestrian Safety


Everyone is a pedestrian, whether or not walking is one’s primary mode of travel. As a commute mode, walking is gaining in numbers. Based on the first six months of 2020, the GHSA projects that pedestrian fatalities in the nation will be on pace with 2019 despite large reductions in motor vehicle travel associated with COVID-19. Pedestrian fatalities as a proportion of total motor vehicle deaths increased from 13.0 percent in 2010 to 17.3 percent in 2019. Moreover, pedestrian fatalities increased 46.5 percent from 2010 to 2019 while other traffic deaths increased by 4.9 percent. Increases in pedestrian fatalities are largely occurring at night - from 2010 to 2019, the number of pedestrian fatalities that occurred in the dark increased 53.8 percent compared to a 16.2 percent increase in daytime pedestrian fatalities. Yet, GHSA estimates a pedestrian fatality rate of 1.9 per 100,000 population in 2020, a slight reduction from the 2019 rate of 2.0 per 100,000 population.

Historically, road safety efforts focused on changing human behaviors to prevent crashes. The Safe System approach reframes efforts to save lives by expecting crashes to happen and focusing attention on reducing the severity of injuries when a crash occurs. By understanding the nuances of pedestrian crashes, transportation professionals can better address every aspect of crash risks and implement multiple layers of protection to ensure that everyone traveling on California roadways will go safely. Analyses presented in the pedestrian program area include fatal and serious injuries to pedestrians. FARS only includes pedestrians on foot, whereas SWITRS fatal and serious injury analysis include both pedestrians and persons on personal conveyances, e.g., skateboards, wheelchairs, etc. Pedestrian crashes are defined as crashes where one or more victims is a pedestrian.

Fortin, Garrett
Cooper, Jill F.
Publication date: 
September 2, 2021
Publication type: 
Fact Sheet