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06-2022

NH defies trend as US pedestrian deaths in first half of 2021

Patch News

NEW HAMPshire — Pedestrian deaths have skyrocketed across the country, but New Hampshire bucks that trend, according to a Thursday report that looked at the number of people killed while walking during the first six months of the past three years. Compares numbers.

In New Hampshire, pedestrian deaths from June 1 to June 30 dropped by 37.5 percent compared to 2020, according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. That is, a reduction of three deaths.

Nationwide, pedestrian traffic increased nearly 17 percent from June 1 to June 30, from 2,951 during the six-month period in 2019 to an estimated 3,441 in the same period last year, according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association . That is, an increase of 507 deaths.

“People are at increased risk of being killed when doing something as healthy as walking instead of driving to get to where they are going,” said Pam Schadell Fischer, a senior executive with the Highway Safety Group. Is.”

“We have to recognize that everyone — I know it sounds pie-in-the-sky — has a right on the street,” Fischer told Patch. “We’ve become so car-centric, and that’s been our focus. Our priority in infrastructure is how we move vehicles.”

Fischer called for a disturbing 46 percent increase in pedestrian deaths over the past decade, from 4,457 in 2011 to 6,516 in 2020.

“We can’t do that,” she said.

The Governors Highway Safety Association is a non-profit group representing state safety offices that uses federal grant money to resolve issues on highways resulting from driver behavior behind the wheel. Its “Spotlight on Highway Safety” report is based on preliminary data provided by member public safety departments of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Roads that prefer slow-moving traffic, pedestrian-friendly speeds as well as inadequate sidewalks and poor lighting – have contributed to pedestrian deaths for more than a decade. However, Fisher said there were some major behavioral issues during the period covered by the report.

Fisher said the boom in dangerous driving began when Americans saw wide-open highways at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued to “pedal to the metal” as traffic volumes returned to more normal levels.

“Speed ​​is a factor,” she said. “There’s a culture in this country that ‘nothing bad happens’, but speeding is a factor in a third of all deaths. The higher the rate of speed, the less chance of survival. We have to slow down It’s down.”

Those heavy-legged drivers may have felt safer opening their engines because the behavior of law enforcement agencies has also changed, Fischer said, adding that perceived safety issues for officers led many to patrol in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. pulled back.

“We know that. We’ve heard it,” she said. “There has been a call to denigrate the police because of concerns about equity. We’ve heard it from our law enforcement agencies and partners. There’s not that much police, so people think it’s less likely that they will be pulled over.”

For example, in Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed, police turned back their patrol, Reuters reported. A report in The Atlantic detailed the ill health of police in Atlanta. Floyd’s killing sparked a nationwide “defy the police” movement, and the Los Angeles Police Department responded by curtailing personal reactions, the Los Angeles Times reported.

All traffic deaths are on the rise: 31,720 people died in the first three quarters of 2021, the most deaths during the first nine months of any year since 2006.

Some of the driver behavior that has made the nation’s open roads so dangerous is spreading to local communities where people are most likely to drive, Fisher said, citing reports from members of the Governors Highway Safety Association that distracted And about an increase in both driving impaired, whether from alcohol or drugs. Use.

Fisher said the report is a call for transportation planners to think more about pedestrian safety in road design and to consider enforcement tools such as speed and red light cameras. At the same time, she said, law enforcement must “flip the switch and get back on track to address risky behavior that puts all road users at risk.”

“We are coming out of, I hope, a pandemic and public health crisis that has made us think about what we can do to protect ourselves,” Fischer said. “Our other public health problem is traffic accidents. The vast majority are preventable. Someone has done something, and it could have been prevented if they didn’t make those choices.”

Instead of thinking “how soon can we get somewhere and how quickly we can do anything, we need to think about how safely I can get there and make sure that everyone in there Are you safe?”

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