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Arizona roads among deadliest in nation for pedestrians

(KTAR News Photo/Matt Bertram)

PHOENIX – Arizona is one of the most dangerous states in the country for pedestrians, according to a new report.

The Grand Canyon State had the nation’s second-highest rate of pedestrian traffic deaths per capita in the first half of 2018, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association’s preliminary annual report.

And with 125, Arizona ranked fifth nationally in number of pedestrian traffic deaths from January through June, an increase of 12 percent from the same time in 2017.

By contrast, New York, with nearly three times the population, had 117 pedestrian fatalities.

Arizona’s total calculates to a rate of 1.74 per 100,000 residents. Only New Mexico was higher at 2.26.

Alberto Gutier, director of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, said one of the issues in Phoenix is that pedestrians too often fail to use intersections to cross major streets.

“People are crossing mid-block, in dark clothing at night, looking at their phone … and being distracted, and vehicles are driving at higher speed,” Gutier told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

Gutier said education is a key to reducing pedestrian deaths.

(City of Phoenix)

To promote roadway safety, the city of Phoenix launched its Heads Up! campaign last year, with tips and video available online.

“The whole idea is to increase overall awareness about safe practices when it comes to driving, walking and bicycling on our city streets,” city spokeswoman Monica Hernandez told KTAR News.

With just one pedestrian death in the first half of 2018, New Hampshire had the lowest total and rate.

The top five states, California (432), Florida (330), Texas (298), Georgia (133) and Arizona, accounted for a whopping 46 percent of all pedestrian deaths in the U.S.

Using the six-month numbers, the Governors Highway Safety Association projected that there were 6,227 pedestrian fatalities for all of 2018, a four percent increase from 2017 and the highest number in nearly three decades.

The association blamed the increase on factors that include distracted or impaired drivers, more people walking to work and more SUVs on the road, which cause more severe injuries in collisions with people on foot.

As fewer people in vehicles have been dying, pedestrian deaths have been increasing nationwide, the report said.

The annual number of pedestrian deaths rose 35 percent from 2008 to 2017, while the number of all other traffic deaths fell by six percent.

Pedestrian deaths accounted for 12 percent of traffic fatalities in 2008, and that was up to 16 percent in 2017.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Amy Phol and Nailea Leon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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