Pedestrian Safety Fact Sheet

Emergency physicians see thousands of pedestrians injured every year: In 2008, 69,000 pedestrians were injured in traffic crashes and nearly 5,000 (4,378) were killed. A pedestrian is injured every eight minutes and one is killed every two hours.

In one-third of pedestrian fatalities, the pedestrian is intoxicated.  Alcohol involvement — for driver or pedestrian — was reported in nearly half of all traffic crashes resulting in pedestrian deaths.

More than two-thirds of pedestrians (70 percent) who died were males. About one-fifth of children between the ages of 5 and 9 who died in traffic crashes were pedestrians. Children age 15 and younger accounted for 22 percent of all pedestrians injured in traffic crashes. Older pedestrians (over age 65) account for 18 percent of all pedestrian fatalities and 10 percent of all pedestrian injuries ((National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, NHTSA).

Thirty-eight percent of all young (under age 16) pedestrian fatalities occur between 3 pm and 7 pm. Pedestrian deaths are more likely to occur on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays than on other days; nearly half (49 percent) of all pedestrian fatalities occurred on these days.

More pedestrians die on New Year's Day than on any other day of the year (the journal Injury Prevention).

Halloween is the most dangerous day of the year for pedestrian injuries and deaths among children. Children are walking at night and in costumes which may impede their vision and create tripping hazards.


How often is alcohol involved in a pedestrian injury or death?

In 2008:

Thirty-six percent of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents had blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher.

Thirteen percent of drivers had .08 blood alcohol concentrations.

In 6 percent of accidents, both the driver and the pedestrian were intoxicated.


Is cell phone use associated with pedestrian injuries?

This is a growing trend. The rate of pedestrian injuries resulting from walking while using a cell phone, either to talk or to text, doubled from 2006 to 2007 and doubled again in 2008 (1,000 emergency department visits, according to Ohio State University).


How can pedestrian injury death be prevented?

To prevent injury and death, pedestrians should:

Use sidewalks. Know and obey safety rules.

Cross only at intersections and crosswalks and only with a green light. .

Look left, right, and left again for traffic before stepping off the curb.

Be alert and aware when you are crossing the street, not distracted by cell phones, PDAs or headsets.

See and be seen. Walk facing traffic.

Closely watch children and teach them the safety rules.

Data for this fact sheet came from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Safe Kids Campaign and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Other Resources: 

Emergency Care for You has suggestions on how to make Halloween a safer holiday, check out

Use the "Walkability Checklist," available from NHTSA, which helps community members determine the safety of their neighborhood walkways and take actions to make them safer.

Check out America Walks for Walking Facts.