National Safety Council analysis of NHTSA pedestrian traffic fatality data show a general decline in the number of pedestrian fatalities from 1994 through 2009. Since 2009, pedestrian fatalities trended up sharply; 2019 showed a 51% increase, totaling 6,205 traffic-related deaths compared to 4,109 in 2009. Although 2019 pedestrian deaths were 2.7% lower compared to 2018, it is unclear if this new positive trend will persist or not. Looking at pedestrian fatalities as a percent of all traffic fatalities, the upward trend started several years earlier, in 2005. In 2004, pedestrian fatalities accounted for 10.9% of all traffic fatalities, while in 2019 pedestrians accounted for 17.2% of all traffic deaths.

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While pedestrians accounted for 17% of traffic deaths in 2019, this percent varies by age. Pedestrians represent 20% or more of traffic deaths among 45- to 69-year-olds. The largest number of pedestrian deaths occur among 55- to 64-year-olds. While 5- to 9-year-olds experienced the fewest number of pedestrian deaths (46) in 2019, these deaths still represented 14% of all traffic deaths for this age group.

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Alcohol impairment was a factor in 42% of all pedestrian fatalities in 2018, accounting for 2,618 deaths. The pedestrian is the only impaired individual 26% of the time, the driver is the only individual impaired 10% of the time, while both the pedestrian and the driver are impaired 6% of the time.

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Because NHTSA pedestrian fatality data is limited to traffic crashes and does not include incidents occurring in driveways and parking lots, most pedestrians are struck by the front of the vehicle (84%). Only 1.6% of fatally injured pedestrians in traffic crashes are struck by the rear of the vehicle, while 2.7% are struck by the right side of the vehicle.

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How to Use Injury Facts® Charts and Tables