A study done by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, released Tuesday, estimates the amount of pedestrians hit and killed by vehicles in 2015 was at nearly a 10-year high.
Pedestrians who were hit and killed jumped by 10% last year, coming after a 19% increase from 2009 to 2014. During that same period overall traffic deaths declined by about 4% as vehicles themselves become more advanced and safer.
For the first time in 25 years, pedestrian deaths in 2015 are projected to account for 15% of all traffic fatalities.
The primary reasons for the increase: cheaper gas in a stable economy means more people driving, nearly a million more people are now walking or biking to work in recent years, and distracted drivers and walkers.
The ever-growing use of cell phones have put pedestrians at risk between the issue of texting and driving as well as pedestrians on their phones and often using earbuds that drown out approaching vehicles.
The 10% increase in pedestrian fatalities in 2015 makes it the highest total of deaths since 1996, when 5,449 pedestrians were killed by cars.