ATLANTA (CBS46) – Georgia had the fourth most pedestrian deaths in the United States in 2018, according to a new report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

The preliminary study estimated that 6,227 pedestrians died in 2018 which was the highest number in 30 years. For the study, analysts reviewed data from the first six months of 2018. Overall, the GHSA projects a four percent increase, year over year, in the number of pedestrians killed.

The study found five states (Arizona, California, Georgia, and Texas) accounted for nearly half of all pedestrian deaths during the first six months of 2018. On the other hand, those states made up 33 percent of the total U.S. population in 2018.

Looking at Georgia, the study reported 133 pedestrians died from January to June 2018. This was fourth in the nation behind California (432), Florida (330), and Texas (298). Looking deeper at the numbers, Georgia ranked eighth in the nation with 1.36 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people.

According to the study, U.S. pedestrian deaths hit a low in 2009 of 4,109 and were near a peak-level in 2018 at 6,227. The study also reported the highest number of pedestrian deaths, 4,440 in 2017, happened during the night.

While smartphone usage has been blamed by some, the study said there are several areas behind the rise in pedestrian deaths, including: more walking has increased exposure; unsafe driving behaviors like speeding and distracting driving are increasing; and the number of SUVs involved in pedestrian deaths have increased by 50 percent since 2013.

The study found passenger cars account for the majority of pedestrian deaths, but SUVs generally cause more severe pedestrian injuries and are making up an increasingly large percentage of registered vehicles.

“Crossing the street should not be a death sentence,” said report author Richard Retting. “We have a range of proven infrastructure, engineering, and behavioral strategies that we know can reduce pedestrian deaths. Critical improvements to road and vehicle design are being made, but take significant time and resources to implement. It is also important to conduct law enforcement and safety education campaigns now to ensure drivers and pedestrians can safely coexist. It’s crucial to do everything we can to protect pedestrians utilizing a broad approach.”

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