States that legalized marijuana use since 2012 experienced a collective 16.4% increase in pedestrian fatalities
It took a couple of student reporters at the daily two additional pages backing up their front page investigative report on crosswalk deaths that have spiraled in Arizona. Including an oversize a graphic and aerial photo view of a mid-street crosswalk in West Phoenix, the report is titled, “The Perils for Pedestrians,” linking to Arizona Department of Transportation Crash Data.
The conclusion reached by the duo is found in this adjacent headline: “Key to solving problem lies in overhaul of state’s roadways.” Not to belittle the needless deaths, but the reality is it’s not the roadways, it’s the pedestrians. Though the authors point to the deadliest area being on a stretch of 27th Avenue, north of Bethany Home Road, referring to it as “dimly lit,” the problem would exist if high intensity beacons were trained on the thoroughfare.
The escalation in fatalities dovetails with the lack if respect for authority and laws. Few pedestrians walk up to a crosswalk to cross the street. It has become all too common to see parents crossing mid-block with young children in tow. Not only are the parents imperiling their safety, but they are teaching their children that the lines in the street don’t apply to them. A police officer asked about the lack of enforcement when this dangerous behavior is observed, stated, “It’s a cultural thing.”
What culture teaches their children that rules apply to others but not to them, or their view children as expendable?
Another factor to be considered is the peak in pedestrian fatalities occurring on Saturday nights and weekends when alcohol is frequently a factor.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released preliminary fatal traffic crash data for all road users for calendar year 2016 (the most recent year that complete crash data is available) and estimates show that this may have been the deadliest year since 1990 for pedestrians. Motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths accounted for more than a third of the year-to-year increase.
The Governors Highway Safety Association Spotlight on Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities, reported nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2017 based on data provided by all 50 State Highway Safety Offices and the District of Columbia.
Among the reported findings:
- Twenty three states (and Washington DC) had increases in pedestrian fatalities.
- Twenty states had decreases in pedestrian fatalities.
- Seven states had no change in pedestrian fatalities.
- Both Hawaii and Wyoming had only 1 pedestrian death, while California had 352.
- Arizona was among five states (including California, Florida, New York and Texas) that accounted for 43% of all pedestrian deaths.
- The seven states (and Washington DC) that have legalized marijuana use since 2012 experienced a collective 16.4% increase in pedestrian fatalities in 2017 (compared to same time period in 2016). All other states had a collective 5.8% decrease.