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Pedestrian deaths on roadways are up 89% in Colorado, according to AAA study

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Posted at 7:12 AM, Jan 19, 2021

The number of pedestrians killed on Colorado's roadways in recent years has nearly doubled from 2008.

According to a new analysis from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and AAA Colorado, pedestrian deaths are up 89% in Colorado, which surpasses the nationwide increase of about 53%, when comparing data from 2009 to 2018.

Nationwide, pedestrians death increased from 4,109 in 2009 to 6,283 in 2018.

In Colorado and the rest of the country, the jump in fatal crashes involving pedestrians happened almost entirely in urban areas, particularly mid-block locations along major roads.

"We're lucky to live in Colorado, where we cherish our active lifestyles and where there are so many good reasons to leave the car at home and run, walk or bike," said Skyler McKinley, director of public affairs for AAA Colorado. "That pedestrian deaths here outpace the national average should ring alarm bells. As we continue to grow, drivers, pedestrians and, most importantly, governments need to do more to protect our most vulnerable."

Across the U.S., more pedestrians lost their lives in 2018 than any other year since 1990. The increase in 2018 comes after three decades of a decline in pedestrian deaths, according to the AAA study.

Of those who died in 2018, three out of every four crashes happened in darkness, AAA reported. The number of pedestrians who died in the darkness in 2018 was larger than the total number of pedestrians killed in any lighting conditions in 2009, 2010 or 2011, according to the study.

Nationwide, pedestrians who were killed at a location other than an intersection, or a place without a crosswalk, increased 70% from 2009 to 2018.

Alcohol remains a factor in the fatalities, as 32% of all pedestrians who died in that 10-year range had a blood alcohol concentration equal to or greater than the legal limit for driving. The death rate of sober pedestrians also increased.

"As we work to eliminate preventable tragedies on our roadways, it's imperative we avoid a blame game between pedestrians and motorists," McKinley said. "The bottom line is that everybody has the same right to use our transportation infrastructure without fearing for their life. The data suggest that pedestrians should take care to cross at crosswalks, when possible. Drivers, in turn, need to be more vigilant – especially in urban areas, and especially at night. Finally, governments must seriously evaluate lowering speed limits and changing roadway design in pedestrian-heavy corridors. We can reverse this trend, but it's going to take working together."

The AAA said pedestrians should never assume a driver will give them the right of way, even if they have it. Make eye contact with the driver to ensure they see you before you cross a roadway and use a crosswalk wherever available.