Dangerous driving and inadequate infrastructure continue to pose a deadly threat to pedestrians, according to the latest figures by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

In the first half of 2023, 3,373 people were struck and killed by drivers.

Though the modest 4 percent decrease in pedestrian fatalities is welcome news, deaths have risen 14 percent since 2019.

The number of people killed while walking reached a four-decade high of more than 7,500 in 2022, the GHSA analysis showed.

GHSA’s annual “Spotlight on Highway Safety” report provides state and national trends in pedestrian traffic deaths from January through June 2023, based on preliminary data provided by State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs).

The data showed 153 fewer pedestrians were killed in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. But there were 422 more fatalities than in 2019, the last year before the pandemic upended travel patterns.

The GSHA analysis found that fatalities have risen 58 percent between the first half of 2013 and 2023.

The analysis was conducted by Elizabeth Petraglia, Ph.D., of the research firm Westat.

The association explained the increase in deaths was due to a steep drop in traffic enforcement across the country since 2020 which has enabled dangerous driving behaviors.

In addition, the GHSA explained that roads are designed to prioritize fast-moving vehicle traffic instead of slower speeds that are safer for people walking.

Many parts of the country lack infrastructure – such as sidewalks, crosswalks and lighting – that help protect people on foot, the association added.

Lastly, the vehicle fleet in the U.S. is increasingly dominated by larger, heavier vehicles that are more likely to injure or kill people walking, the report noted.

“After witnessing pedestrian deaths rise each year, it’s encouraging to finally see a small decrease,” said GHSA Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Adkins. “But the fact remains that 18 people go for a walk every day and don’t return home due to preventable crashes. The only acceptable number of traffic deaths is zero. We must seize on this recent momentum and continue to push for a safer system that protects people on foot from the dangerous driving behaviors that are all too prevalent.”

The decline in pedestrian deaths in the first half of 2023 mirrors the recent trend in overall traffic fatalities, the GHSA said.

Total roadway deaths fell 3.3 percent during the first six months of last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Much like pedestrian deaths, overall traffic fatalities remain far above pre-pandemic levels. The 19,515 roadway deaths reported in the first half of 2023 are up 15 percent from 17,025 during the same period in 2019.

At the state level, the latest GHSA report indicates that pedestrian fatalities decreased in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

Eighteen states experienced increases, with the number of pedestrian deaths unchanged in three states.

Eight states reported two consecutive decreases in pedestrian fatalities for the first half of the year, while six reported two straight increases.

Data analysis also found three states – California, Florida and Texas – accounted for 37 percent of all pedestrian deaths in the first six months of 2023, even though they are home to 27 percent of the U.S. population.

The warmer climate translates to increased foot traffic and more urban areas where pedestrians and motor vehicles are more likely to share the road, the report noted.

GHSA will publish a second, comprehensive Spotlight report later this year that will include state pedestrian fatality projections for all of 2023, an analysis of 2022 data from NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and an overview of proven strategies states and communities are employing to reduce pedestrian crashes and injuries.