We’re taught from the time we’re little to look both ways before crossing the street. Increasingly, that’s not enough to keep pedestrians safe. Pedestrian deaths rose a whopping 11% from 2015 to 2016 across the US, and it’s increasing at an alarming rate. The numbers are estimates, but we’ve gone from 4,100 pedestrian deaths in 2009 to 5,400 in 2015 and 6,000 in 2016.

You can probably guess the culprit. Experts believe that smartphone use is a major cause for the increase in deaths, but it’s not just the drivers. Pedestrians are also busy looking at their phone or listening to music with their headphones on.

There is another potential factor too, though. Improving economic conditions coupled with pretty stable gas prices have led to people logging more miles in their cars, too.

North Carolina saw an almost 25% increase in pedestrian deaths, from 77 in 2015 to 96 in 2016. North Carolina tied with Georgia for third for the largest number increase behind Texas and Florida.

Fourteen states, led by California (racking up 46 fewer deaths in 2016) actually saw a decrease in pedestrian fatalities, but these were not enough to make a positive national trend.

If you’re a pedestrian, the best thing you can do to stay safe is to be aware and be smart. Don’t look down at your phone while walking on a road, and make sure to stick to the sidewalks or well off the road if there are none to be found.

 

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