Pedestrian Safety

People Crossing Street in New York City

In 2017, 5,977 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States. That’s about one death every 88 minutes.1

Additionally, an estimated 137,000 pedestrians were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal crash-related injuries in 2017.2 Per trip, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be killed in a car crash.3

Who is most at risk?

Alcohol-impaired drivers and pedestrians

Almost half (47%) of crashes that resulted in a pedestrian death involved alcohol for the driver and/or the pedestrian.1 One in every three (33%) fatal pedestrian crashes involved a pedestrian with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 grams per deciliter (g/dL), 17% involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 g/dL, and some fatal pedestrian crashes involved both.1

Older adults and children

Pedestrians aged 65 and older accounted for 20% of all pedestrian deaths and an estimated 10% of all pedestrian injuries in 2017.1,2 One in every five children under the age of 15 killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians in 2017.1

Additional Risk Factors

  • 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, at non-intersection locations, and at night.1
Pedestrian safety tips
child running on crosswalk
  • Increase your visibility at night by carrying a flashlight when walking and wearing reflective clothing, such as reflective vests.1
  • Cross streets at a designated crosswalk or intersection whenever possible.1
  • Walk on a sidewalk or path instead of the road. Walk on the shoulder and facing traffic if a sidewalk or path is not available.1
  • Avoid using electronic devices like earbuds or walking if you have been using alcohol or drugs. They can cause distractions and impair judgement and coordination. 1
  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts 2017 Data: Pedestrians. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC; 2019. Available at Accessed 15 October 2019.
  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 15 October 2019.
  3. Beck, L.F., Dellinger, A.M., & O’Neil, M.E. (2007) Motor Vehicle Crash Injury Rates by Mode of Travel, United States: Using Exposure-Based Methods to Quantify Differences. American Journal of Epidemiology, 166(2), 212-218.
  4. Rosen, E. & Sander, U. (2009) Pedestrian Fatality Risk as a Function of Car Impact Speed. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 41(3), 536-542.