Pedestrian Safety

Photo: Pedestrians in a cross walk

In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States.1 This averages to one crash-related pedestrian death every 1.5 hours.1

Additionally, almost 129,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal crash-related injuries in 2015.2 Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be killed in a car crash on each trip.3

Who is most at risk?

Older adults

Pedestrians ages 65 and older accounted for 20% of all pedestrian deaths in 20161 and an estimated 15% of all pedestrians injured in 2015.2


In 2016, one in every five children under the age of 15 who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.1

Drivers and pedestrians who are alcohol-impaired

Almost half (48%) of crashes that resulted in pedestrian deaths involved alcohol for the driver or the pedestrian. One in every three (33%) of fatal pedestrian crashes involved a pedestrian with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) and 13% involved a driver with a BAC of at least 0.08 g/dL.1

Additional Risk Factors

Additionally, higher vehicle speeds increase both the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck by a car and the severity of injury.4

Most pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas, non-intersection locations, and at night.1

How can pedestrians help prevent injuries and deaths from motor vehicle crashes?

  • Pedestrians can increase their visibility at night by carrying a flashlight when walking and by wearing retro-reflective clothing.1
  • Whenever possible, cross the street at a designated crosswalk or intersection.1
  • It is much safer to walk on a sidewalk or path, but if a sidewalk or path is not available, walk on the shoulder and facing traffic.1


  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts 2016 Data: Pedestrians. S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC; 2018. Available at icon. Accessed 16 April 2018.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System). Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2015. Available at Accessed 16 April 2018.
  3. Beck LF, Dellinger AM, O’Neil ME. Motor vehicle crash injury rates by mode of travel, United States: Using exposure-based methods to quantify differences. American Journal of Epidemiology 2007;166:212–218.
  4. Rosen E, Sander U. Pedestrian fatality risk as a function of car impact speed. Accident; Analysis and Prevention 2009;41:536-542.

CDC Vital Signs: Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths. In 2013, the US crash death rate was more than twice the average of other high-income countries.