Pedestrian deaths in U.S. hit highest level in 30 years, study finds

New study shows an increase in pedestrian deaths

Last Updated Feb 27, 2020 7:45 PM EST

Washington, D.C. — If you walk to work or the store, you're facing increasing danger from distracted drivers. A new study out Thursday shows pedestrian deaths hit a 30-year high in 2019.

More than 6,500 people were killed — a 5% increase from the year before.

For the second time this week, a child was hit and killed crossing a street in New York City.

New research finds pedestrian deaths have surged 53%. Distracted driving and walking with smartphones are factors, as is drug and alcohol abuse. All this as warming weather is bringing more pedestrians outside.

Angelina Pinedo, 21, walking to her sister's house in Redondo Beach, California, was killed by a hit and run driver last year.

"My baby sister had the most amazing soul," Angelina's sister Martha said at the time. "And I wouldn't be surprised if she were here telling me to forgive that person."

Three-quarters of pedestrian deaths happen at night — most on local roads and away from intersections.

The Governor's Highway Safety Association's Russ Martin said drivers and walkers distracted by smartphones is a growing problem.

"We see drivers driving distracted and when a person is distracted by their phone or some other source, they're less likely to see a pedestrian," he explained.

To cut down on these deadly incidents, the study recommended adding crosswalks for pedestrians and improving street lighting. Less cellphone use while driving or walking would help too.

  • Kris Van Cleave

    Kris Van Cleave is the transportation correspondent for CBS News.