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Pedestrian Injuries and Fatalities

NCJ Number
Justin A. Heinonen; John E. Eck
Date Published
November 2007
108 pages

In this Problem-Oriented Guide for police, the problem of pedestrian-vehicle crashes resulting in injuries and fatalities is examined, and reviews the factors that contribute to such crashes, provides a series of questions to help analyze the local pedestrian injury and fatality problem, and reviews responses to the problem and what is known about them from evaluative research and police practice.


Pedestrian-vehicle crashes are a major problem in the United States. In 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that approximately 4,700 pedestrians were killed and another 70,000 injured due to pedestrian-vehicle crashes. On average, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic collision every 113 minutes and injured every 8 minutes. The times and days pedestrians are most at risk of injury differ from those when they are most at risk of death. The majority of pedestrian injuries and fatalities happen to males between the ages of 25 and 44. Factors found to contribute to pedestrian injuries and fatalities include: pedestrian behavior, vehicle and driver factors, physical environment and special conditions (circumstances that accentuate one or more factors), such as bad weather and those individuals with limited mobility. In understanding the pedestrian-vehicle crash problem, a community must combine the general knowledge with specific facts describing local conditions. Carefully analyzing the problem helps in the design of an effective response strategy fitting the local community's specific needs. Once the problem is identified and understood, effective responses can then be developed to address pedestrian injuries and fatalities. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses, including designating a special pedestrian safety task force within the agency, establishing hotspot-specific crackdowns on jaywalking, addressing pedestrian drinking behavior, increasing driver's perceptions of risk regarding pedestrian fatalities, installing crossing systems that include a pedestrian detection system, improving sidewalks and other pedestrian walkways, and improving safety for workers at higher risk of crashes. Appendixes A-C and references