Traffic safety approaches often center around risks to drivers—excessive speed, failure to wear seat belts, distractions, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol—but there is another group that needs to be considered in efforts to improve safety: pedestrians. The number of U.S. pedestrian fatalities reached a high of 5,584 in 1998 and steadily declined until 2010, when it started to rise again. In 2012, the number of pedestrian fatalities was 4,743—the highest it had been in 15 years—an increase of 286 pedestrian lives lost over the number of fatalities in 2011. In 2013, the number of pedestrian fatalities decreased slightly, though it still remained unacceptably high with 4,635 pedestrian deaths.
Between 1994 and 2012, according to Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data, 92,385 pedestrians died in traffic crashes on U.S. roadways. Clearly, something needed to be done to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities in the United States.