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Distractions partly to blame for rise in pedestrian deaths

As we told you about recently, U.S. traffic fatalities increased in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the year before. Not surprisingly, pedestrian deaths appear to be on the rise as well. The most recent data available, from 2010, shows that pedestrian fatalities rose 4 percent year-to-year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 70,000 pedestrians were injured in car accidents in 2010, and 4,280 people pedestrians suffered fatal injuries. That's an increase of 4 percent over 2009 numbers. Here are a few other sobering statistics released by the NHTSA.

• 47 percent of the fatal pedestrian crashes involved alcohol, which was consumed either by the driver or by the pedestrian.

• 90 percent of the deadly accidents took place when the weather was clear. So, one could conclude that inclement weather doesn't play a huge factor in pedestrian deaths.

• Two-thirds percent of the victims were male.

• 68 percent of the crashes happened at night, while about half occurred on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

• 80 percent of the deaths happened when pedestrians were crossing at non-intersections.

What can we learn from these numbers? Since most of the fatal crashes occurred at non-intersections, it may be safe to assume that drivers were caught off guard. In some cases, they may not have been paying attention; in others, the pedestrians may have been distracted by their cellphones while walking, which is a growing problem.

For the purposes of the study, a pedestrian was defined as anyone who was sitting, walking, running, jogging or hiking.

Source: CNN, "Pedestrian fatalities up 4 percent in 2010; non-intersection crossings most deadly," Jim Barnett, Aug. 7, 2012

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