Temporal Patterns in U.S. Pedestrian Traffic Crashes

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2024-04-18

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Abstract

The number of pedestrian traffic fatalities in the U.S. has been increasing since 2009, despite a general decline during the preceding decades (Figure ES1). In contrast, changes in the number of non-fatal injured pedestrians in traffic crashes were less pronounced during the same period. Our 2022 pedestrian-centric study, funded by the National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence, focused on the differences between those two populations (i.e., fatal and non-fatal injured pedestrians).

This analysis extended that study by exploring fatal and non-fatal injured pedestrians from the perspective of temporal characteristics (e.g., year, month, day of week, hour of day), collected from U.S. national datasets for police-reported traffic crashes maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fatal pedestrian crash data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System for the 2010–2019 calendar years were examined. Non-fatal injured pedestrian crash data were weighted estimates from two national data sources: the General Estimates System for calendar years 2010–2015 and the Crash Report Sampling System for calendar years 2016–2019.

The findings of this temporal analysis can be used to identify potential factors influencing the continued increase in fatalities and the differences between fatal and non-fatal pedestrian crashes. In addition to providing distributions for each temporal characteristic, the ratio of fatal to non-fatal injured pedestrians in traffic crashes was used to identify “peaks” during which fewer pedestrian-involved crashes occurred and/or the injuries were more severe. This ratio was also used to develop categories that typify weekly driving operations. These measures showed distinct differences for fatal and non-fatal injured pedestrians. Fatal pedestrians occurred more often during early hours, weeknights, and weekend-nights, with peaks at night. Non-fatal injured pedestrians occurred more often during weekdays, evening commutes, and weeknights, with peaks during the day. There were no notable differences observed in the 2020 calendar year temporal patterns for fatal and non-fatal injured pedestrians compared with the period 2017–2019. This information is important for determining areas of further study needed to develop or refine vehicle and infrastructure countermeasures and public campaigns to improve pedestrian traffic safety.

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Pedestrian fatalities, Pedestrian injuries, Motor vehicle crashes

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