PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Across the nation, more pedestrians are dying from being hit by cars, according to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association.
The results listed in the study, though preliminary, show a 10 percent increase year over year of pedestrian fatalities. Despite the startling trend, Rhode Island is actually one of the outliers, according to the Department of Transportation (RIDOT).
“Our numbers are going down,” said RIDOT Chief of Highway Safety Gabrielle Abbate. “We are doing a really good job, considering that pedestrian traffic in the state has gone up.”
For the first six months of 2014, there were six pedestrian deaths in Rhode Island, according to the report. For the first six months of 2015, that number was down to two.
In March, 9-year-old Ani Emdjian was crossing the Smith Street in Providence with her dad when a bus struck her, killing her. Two months later, Cheryl Sherman was hit by a car walking home in Coventry.
The report blamed the nationwide increase on a number of factors, a big one being the use of cell phones while walking.
“You’ve got to pay attention,” Abbate added. “Walking across the street with earphones on and texting is not going to get you there safely. You’re not going to guarantee your safety.”
Abbate said RIDOT has worked hard to buck the national trend through education, policy, and enforcement, but unfortunately, three pedestrians have already died so far this year.
“We’ve lost lives,” she added. “So there’s always 100% more we can do, and we take that very seriously.”
Research from RIDOT released last month also revealed that motor vehicle fatalities have also been on the decline in Rhode Island over the past five years.