Wisconsin Reports Increase in Pedestrian Deaths

May 16, 2018

Wisconsin transportation officials are growing concerned about risky behavior by drivers and pedestrians as the number of pedestrian fatalities increased last year, mirroring a national trend.

The state saw almost 60 pedestrian deaths in 2017, compared with about 50 in 2016, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported .

“It’s a multi-faceted problem,” said David Pabst, director of the bureau of safety for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

There’s been an effort in recent years to reduce drunk and distracted driving, but intoxicated pedestrians also put their lives at risk, Pabst said.

“We’re getting our message across to the drunk drivers, but some people leave their cars behind and walk,” he said. “Now, you have an impaired pedestrian.”

Pabst said intoxicated pedestrians should find a designated driver or take a taxi home.

He also said pedestrians who are distracted while on their phones also pose a problem.

“I’ve seen guys on their phones while riding bikes in Madison,” Pabst said. “(And) some aren’t paying attention (when they’re) walking; they are on their phones.”

Running across a poorly lit street in the evening is also risky, he said.

The Transportation Department plans to have task forces emphasizing pedestrian safety this summer.

“You can get people to change their behavior,” Pabst said. “It’s a matter of emphasis, and it’s a lot about culture shifts.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported last week that pedestrian deaths nationwide have increased by 46 percent since 2009. Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2016.

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