The news about deaths on the nation’s highways continues to be positive with pedestrian deaths the latest to show a small reduction.

Governors Highway Safety Association projected that pedestrian deaths dropped 4.33% in the first six months of 2023, a reduction of 153 deaths to 3,373. That follows a reduction of 0.35% in all road deaths in 2022 after two years of sharp increases during the pandemic.

“There’s no one factor that caused this,” said Adam Snider, GHSA’s director of communications. “While it’s good to see some modest improvement, we have to do more.”

Experts say deaths spiked during the pandemic after stay-at-home orders led to open roads that encouraged the remaining drivers to speed, drive intoxicated on drugs or alcohol, and become distracted. Additionally, fewer police officers were deployed on traffic duty and made fewer stops because of the fear of spreading the COVID-19 virus.

GHSA’s 15-page report estimates pedestrian deaths decreased in 29 states and Washington, D.C., for the first six months of 2023, increases in 18 states and three states unchanged. The biggest decrease was in California, which saw deaths fall by 66 to 498, a difference of 11.7%, while Colorado’s pedestrian deaths rose by 19 to 61, a 45.24% increase.

Deaths in Pennsylvania dropped by nine to 76, a 10.59% decrease.

Overall, pedestrian deaths per 1 billion miles driven fell from 2.2 for the first six months of 2022 to 2.1 last year.

Snider said the biggest factors in reducing pedestrian deaths are better driving; improved road conditions such as lighting, crosswalks and sidewalks; and more aggressive traffic enforcement. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg declared a national road emergency in early 2022 that called on federal officials to increase efforts on the first two, plus providing better health care for those who are involved in crashes, but Snider said it may be early to see improvements because of those factors.

“Putting more police on the roads is something we can do today,” Snider said. “The bottom line is we still have a lot of bad driving and we have a lot more deaths than we had pre-pandemic. … We need to be doing more of everything.”

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at