Research Shows Cell Phone Use, Marijuana Use Causes of Escalating Pedestrian Death Tolls
NEW YORK, New York — Pedestrian deaths reached a 30-year high in 2019 in the United States, and researchers from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) believe they have figured out why. According to an article appearing in the New York Post, the researchers found that increased cellphone use, the widespread legalization of marijuana in many states, and the large percentage of sports utility vehicles on the road killed the greatest number of pedestrians since 1988. A total of 6,590 pedestrians died in the U.S. in 2019. The total is an increase of five percent over 2018 and an astounding 60 percent increase since 2009. Since 2009, however, the number of pedestrians killed in car crashes has increased across the country.
The researchers who published the study released by the GHSA cannot point to any specific factor as the culprit to blame for the steady increase of pedestrian deaths saw for one: the proliferation of smartphones. The study’s authors observed a steep drop in pedestrian deaths from the high-water mark in 1988 until 2009. Since 2009 when smartphones became readily available to the general public, pedestrian deaths started climbing.
Drivers and pedestrians are distracted by their cellphones. The study’s authors indicate that both populations are distracted by more than just texting. Drivers, the research suggests, are taking their eyes off of the road for several seconds at a time while traveling several hundred feet without watching the road.
Other factors contribute to the reversal of gains made from 1988 to 2009 as well. Sports utility vehicles are more widely driven than ever before. These large vehicles figure into the carnage on the roads because they cause greater damage to a pedestrian than a smaller vehicle. Additionally, the decriminalization of marijuana in many jurisdictions is a possible cause. The effects of marijuana decriminalization are speculative at this point. The study’s authors are clear that the country is in what it describes as “crisis mode” as pedestrians continue to die.
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