Residents in Washington State commonly cherish their lush landscapes and high quality of life in part for the ability to spend time outdoors and feel safe doing so. People on bicycles, skateboards and foot may find the region to their liking, but they should be aware of the risks associated with sharing the roads with cars.

Whether crossing a street in a designated crosswalk or simply making one’s way through a parking lot to get into a grocery store or other building, pedestrians must remain ever alert.

Pedestrian fatalities rise in Washington State

According to records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 49 pedestrians died in accidents across Washington State in 2013. Those pedestrians represented just over 11% of the state’s total vehicular fatalities that year. The number of pedestrians killed in vehicle crashes rose every year for the subsequent three years. By 2017, the state recorded 104 pedestrian fatalities and in 2018, another 102 deaths.

The pedestrian deaths in 2018 may have decreased by two, but overall vehicular fatalities that year declined, resulting in pedestrians accounting for nearly 19% of the state’s automotive fatalities.

New vehicle technology failing to keep pedestrians safe

Several new vehicle models today include technology-powered features designed to enhance the driving experience or improve safety. These features include systems to detect pedestrians and stop a vehicle before colliding with the pedestrians.

Unfortunately, one AAA study evaluating these advanced safety features resulted in the automobile agency declaring the systems as completely ineffective at night. Daytime effectiveness rated poorly, with the best scenario finding pedestrian dummies hit by test vehicles 60% of the time.