Pedestrian Safety

People Crossing Street in New York City

More than 7,000 pedestrians were killed on our nation’s roads in crashes involving a motor vehicle in 2020.1 That’s about one death every 75 minutes.1

One in six people who died in crashes in 2020 were pedestrians.1–2

There were also an estimated 104,000 emergency department visits of pedestrians treated for non-fatal crash-related injuries in 2020.1

Alcohol, speeding, and location are major risk factors
  • Alcohol was involved for the driver and/or pedestrian in nearly half (46%) of crashes that resulted in a pedestrian death in 2019.3 In these crashes:
    • About one-tenth (13%) involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 grams per deciliter (g/dL)—a level that is illegal for adults aged 21 and older in all U.S. states (Note: Utah has a BAC limit of 0.05 g/dL).3
    • About one-third (32%) involved a pedestrian with a BAC of at least 0.08 g/dL.3
  • Higher vehicle speeds increase both the likelihood of a pedestrian being struck by a car and the injury severity.4-5
  • Most pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas, on roadway locations away from intersections (where higher speeds might occur), and at night.3
Some groups have higher risk for pedestrian death
child running on crosswalk
  • Adults aged 65 years and older accounted for about 17% of the U.S. population in 2020. However, people ages 65 and older accounted for 20% of all pedestrian deaths in 2020.1
  • One in five children (20.4%) under the age of 15 killed in crashes were pedestrians in 2020.1 However, 17% of people aged 15 and older killed in crashes were pedestrians.
You can keep yourself safe as a pedestrian

You can take steps to keep yourself safe when you are a pedestrian.

  • Increase your visibility when walking at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing reflective clothing, such as reflective vests.3
  • Cross streets at a designated crosswalk or intersection whenever possible.3
  • 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.3
  • Avoid using electronic devices like earbuds, which can cause distractions when you are walking.
  • Avoid walking if you have been using alcohol or drugs, which can impair judgement and coordination. 3
  1. 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 March 2022.
  2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Overview of motor vehicle crashes in 2020. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC; 2022. Available at Accessed 15 March 2022.
  3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts 2019 Data: Pedestrians. U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC; 2021. Available at Accessed 15 March 2022.
  4. Rosen, E. & Sander, U. (2009) Pedestrian Fatality Risk as a Function of Car Impact Speed. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 41(3), 536-542
  5. Tefft, B. (2013) Impact Speed and a Pedestrian’s Risk of Severe Injury or Death. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 50, 871-878