TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Early estimates on pedestrian deaths in 2021 show Florida had both the second highest amount per capita, as well as the simple overall number of fatalities. The estimates come from the Governors Highway Safety Association, a national non-profit organization.
According to the latest report from GHSA, 899 pedestrians died in Florida in 2021. While that number is preliminary, it’s a more than 25% reported increase from 2020.
The total fatalities for Florida pedestrians in 2020 was 716, a 183 fatality increase, according to the GHSA.
Nationally, GHSA reported there were 7,485 pedestrian fatalities in 2021. That means Florida made up 12% of all pedestrian traffic fatalities in the United States.
“This is heartbreaking and unacceptable. The pandemic has caused so much death and damage, it’s frustrating to see even more lives needlessly taken due to dangerous driving,” GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said. “We must address the root causes of the pedestrian safety crisis – speeding and other dangerous driving behaviors, inadequate infrastructure, and roads designed for vehicle speed instead of safety – to reverse this trend and ensure people can walk safely.”
GHSA’s release on the new numbers said the fatalities marked “the most pedestrian deaths in a single year in four decades,” with about 20 people dying every day.
The new report by the non-profit provided data and analysis for the years of 2019 through 2020.
“The fatality rate per 100,000 people also increased, rising to 2.26 in 2021 from 2.02 the year before,” GHSA said in a statement. “Because 2020 was an unusual travel year with less driving, the analysis compares 2021 state-level data to both 2020 and 2019 to give a complete picture of the changes in each state.”
According to analysis of the fatality data, the number of pedestrian deaths had not only increased, but had increased among children under 15-years-old, with the portion of speeding-related deaths of children rising to 11.9% of fatalities. GHSA said their analysis of these deaths was made in part through study of fatality statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‘s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, used to “further explore safety trends.” NHTSA reported a 16-year high for traffic fatalities in 2021, generally.
“We face a crisis on America’s roadways that we must address together,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With our National Roadway Safety Strategy and the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are taking critical steps to help reverse this devastating trend and save lives on our roadways.”
While Florida was the second highest number of deaths of pedestrians in 2021, the GHSA report found the Sunshine state had the largest increase in deaths across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The report also noted that Texas and Florida “each had more than 100 additional pedestrian deaths in 201,” while seven other states had a more than 30% increase in the number of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes.
Over the years of 2010 to 2020, GHSA reported the percentage of pedestrian traffic deaths had increased 54%, while all other traffic deaths had only increased 13%. The organization said the number of deaths had “remained at historically high levels” in 2021, though the number itself was still a projection, with final data not yet available, and only preliminary at this stage.
Florida was the state with the second highest number of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents, as well as the second highest amount per state overall in 2020.
California remained the state with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities, though its numbers had decreased. In 2019, California had 1,020 pedestrian traffic fatalities, increasing to 1,026 in the year 2020, before falling to 958 in 2021.
By comparison, Florida had 745 in 2019, and 716 in 2020, before increasing to 899 in 2021.
The next state to approach that level of pedestrian deaths was Texas, which went from 661 in 2019, to 714 in 2020 and 825 in 2021, based on the preliminary numbers provided by GHSA.
“In 2021, pedestrian fatalities are projected to have increased in 37 states and the District of Columbia,” the GHSA report said.
After Texas, the state with the highest projected pedestrian traffic fatalities was Georgia, at 348 in 2021.