During the pandemic, memorable photos circulated on social media of empty streets devoid of people and cars. While the photos had the shock value to go viral, unfortunately, this anecdotal evidence didn’t translate into a drop in pedestrian deaths in early 2020, the Detroit Free Press reports. Instead, a preliminary data analysis released Tuesday by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows a shocking 20 percent increase in the pedestrian fatality rate per billion vehicle miles traveled during the first six months of last year.
“It’s upsetting. It’s really very, very unsettling to think we can have such a large reduction in traffic and no drop in pedestrian fatalities,” said Richard Retting, director of Safety and Research for Sam Schwartz, the consulting firm that analyzed the information. “There’s never been anything close to this on a rate basis.” Other noteworthy issues identified in the report are that people of color represent a disproportionate number of victims, and most fatal pedestrian crashes happen at night and away from intersections.