Why are pedestrian road fatalities surging in the US?

American pedestrian deaths are rising and reached an almost three-decade high last year, according to new figures.

The tragedy plays out 17 times a day on average in the US. The latest study shows an estimated 6,227 pedestrians were killed in traffic in 2018. The report, from the Governors Highway Safety Association, found that while overall US traffic deaths fell 6% from 2008 to 2017, pedestrian deaths increased by 35% – and continue to rise.

The study cannot point to a lone factor in the surge, but cites population growth, driver distraction because of increased phone use at the wheel and the growing popularity of SUVs over smaller family cars.

Photograph: Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe via Getty Images

Photograph: Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe via Getty Images

UN Global Road Safety Week 2019

The UN Road Safety Collaboration is pleased to announce the theme of the 5th UN Global Road Safety Week: “leadership for road safety.” Enlightened leaders are able to provide a vision of what the future might look like and to mobilize action to achieve this. This theme acknowledges that stronger leadership is needed to advance road safety in countries and communities worldwide. It is key to achieving road safety targets, including SDG target 3.6 to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries by 50% by 2020 and SDG target 11.2 to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all by 2030.


The fifth week focusing on leadership for road safety takes place on 6-12 May 2019 .

A school bus in Myanmar

A school bus in Myanmar

WHO report highlights insufficient progress to tackle lack of safety on our roads

A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates road traffic deaths continue to rise, with an annual 1.35 million fatalities. The WHO Global status report on road safety 2018 highlights that road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of children and young people aged 5-29 years.

"These deaths are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility," said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "There is no excuse for inaction. This is a problem with proven solutions. This report is a call for governments and partners to take much greater action to implement these measures."

The WHO Global status report on road safety 2018 documents that despite an increase in the overall number of deaths, the rates of death relative to the size of the world population have stabilized in recent years. This suggests that existing road safety efforts in some middle- and high-income countries have mitigated the situation.

"Road safety is an issue that does not receive anywhere near the attention it deserves - and it really is one of our great opportunities to save lives around the world," said Michael R Bloomberg, Founder and CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies and WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries. "We know which interventions work. Strong policies and enforcement, smart road design, and powerful public awareness campaigns can save millions of lives over the coming decades."


In the settings where progress has been made, it is largely attributed to better legislation around key risks such as speeding, drinking and driving, and failing to use seat-belts, motorcycle helmets and child restraints; safer infrastructure like sidewalks and dedicated lanes for cyclists and motorcyclists; improved vehicle standards such as those that mandate electronic stability control and advanced braking; and enhanced post-crash care.

The report documents that these measures have contributed to reductions in road traffic deaths in 48 middle- and high-income countries. However, not a single low-income country has demonstrated a reduction in overall deaths, in large part because these measures are lacking.

In fact, the risk of a road traffic death remains three times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries. The rates are highest in Africa (26.6 per 100 000 population) and lowest in Europe (9.3 per 100 000 population). On the other hand, since the previous edition of the report, three regions of the world have reported a decline in road traffic death rates: Americas, Europe and the Western Pacific.

Variations in road traffic deaths are also reflected by type of road user. Globally, pedestrians and cyclists account for 26% of all road traffic deaths, with that figure as high as 44% in Africa and 36% in the Eastern Mediterranean. Motorcycle riders and passengers account for 28% of all road traffic deaths, but the proportion is higher in some regions, e.g. 43% in South-East Asia and 36% in the Western Pacific.

Uber and Lyft caused up to a 3% increase in US traffic deaths

The introduction of ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft have fundamentally changed how many individuals are transported in cities and towns worldwide on a daily basis.

A recent study from the University of Chicago estimates Uber and Lyft have increased traffic deaths by 2-3 percent in the USA. That estimate is equal 1100 additional deaths a year.

This study backs up that Uber and Lyft have cannibalized transit trips and increased driving. The study found that cities with high adoption of Uber and Lyft had 3 percent more total miles driven daily on average than cities with low adoption. The effect was even bigger in larger cities and cities that had high rates of transit ridership.

Beginning in the mid-1980s the United States experienced a dramatic decrease in fatal accidents per capita and per vehicle mile driven. In 2010, 32,885 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States, the lowest number of fatalities since 1949 (NHTSA, 2012). This decline halted and then reversed shortly after the introduction of ridesharing into U.S. cities.

U.S. Motor Vehicle Death per VMT, Death per Capita, Total Death, VMT and Population  This figure was produced by Dennis Bratland and is reproduced here under creative commons license. The figure uses NHTSA FARS and CrashStats data to depict total U.S. motor vehicle deaths, deaths per VMT, deaths per capita, VMT and population for the period 1920-2017.

U.S. Motor Vehicle Death per VMT, Death per Capita, Total Death, VMT and Population
This figure was produced by Dennis Bratland and is reproduced here under creative commons license. The figure uses NHTSA FARS and CrashStats data to depict total U.S. motor vehicle deaths, deaths per VMT, deaths per capita, VMT and population for the period 1920-2017.

Los Angeles: the most traffic deaths in USA

Vision Zero, a road traffic safety project pioneered by Sweden in 1997, has since been adopted by the likes of New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin and state of Victoria in Australia. At its best, it focuses on evidence-based interventions around anything from safer vehicles to safer roads, covering engineering, education and enforcement.

Any city can brand its safety projects ‘Vision Zero’. US states that adopted Vision Zero saw fatality rates decline 25% faster than the national average from 1997 to 2014. But reducing road deaths in the long term means redesigning roads to restrict motor traffic – and that’s where things get difficult. New York has had success, while LA has failed.

Los Angeles: the most traffic deaths in the US

While New York has some of the lowest traffic death rates in the country, Los Angeles has the highest number of deaths, with a person killed in traffic every 40 hours.

The scramble crosswalk at Hollywood Blvd and Highland in Los Angeles. Photograph: LADOT

The scramble crosswalk at Hollywood Blvd and Highland in Los Angeles. Photograph: LADOT

In January last year the city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, announced its first Vision Zero strategy, with a goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2025. Work would focus on 40 High Injury Network streets, particularly those near schools. Interventions included pedestrian scrambles, painted kerb extensions protected by bollards, and left turn safety improvements.

Jon Orcutt, who was director of policy at the NYC Department of Transportation from 2007 to 2014 and developed De Blasio’s Vision Zero programme.

He says local council leaders who did back Vision Zero in LA were left isolated and “hung out to dry” in the face of opposition.

Orcutt also expresses his frustration at a lack of ongoing improvement in New York after those initial improvements.

Los Angeles had no safety policy before Vision Zero, it’s pretty common across the United States. There’s nothing to build on and you have established this really ambitious goal and it’s hard for everyone to figure out what’s going on
— Jon Orcutt

“We need leaders to say, ‘This is what we are doing in the city, and you don’t get to say no, and you don’t get to come back on what our technical experts say,’” he says. “That is the power of the mayor – that’s the point of the megaphone you have.”

The fundamental issue in America is that almost anywhere they try to implement Vision Zero, almost everyone in those cities drives. They aren’t willing to be slowed down, they object, and the politicians refuse to do anything that’s going to make drivers angry.

The Spanish city that banned cars

Central Pontevedra after the changes. Photograph: Luis Pereiro Gomez

Central Pontevedra after the changes. Photograph: Luis Pereiro Gomez

In Pontevedra, Spain the usual soundtrack of a Spanish city has been replaced by the tweeting of birds and the chatter of humans. Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores has been mayor of the Galician city since 1999. His philosophy is simple: owning a car doesn’t give you the right to occupy the public space. Lores became mayor after 12 years in opposition, and within a month had pedestrianised all 300,000 sq m of the medieval centre, paving the streets with granite flagstones.

Before I became mayor 14,000 cars passed along this street every day. More cars passed through the city in a day than there are people living here
— Miguel Anxo Fernández Lores

The benefits are numerous. On the same streets where 30 people died in traffic accidents from 1996 to 2006, only three died in the subsequent 10 years, and none since 2009. CO2 emissions are down 70%, nearly three-quarters of what were car journeys are now made on foot or by bicycle, and, while other towns in the region are shrinking, central Pontevedra has gained 12,000 new inhabitants.

Origin of texts and photos from The Guardian

To all the Swedish printed newspapers and magazines

Some time ago the leading Swedish telecom newspaper Telekom idag gave KNPO free ads. We really appreciated this generous offer and got some amazing contacts through this ad. However, we expected more donations and feedback from the readers as private individuals. We will succeed better next time.

So, my question to all the Swedish club, corporate or brand magazines, wouldn’t you be prepared to sponsor KNPO with a one-page ad similar to this one offered by Telekom idag? Please feel free to email me directly at richard[a]knpo.org. This is an excellent opportunity to do some good now, before your business start at 100%, after the summer vacations.

Pages from TI.jpg

Every girl, from Rio to Riyadh will choose her own future one day!

Every girl, from Rio to Riyadh will choose her own future one day!

Apple supports Malala Fund, started by Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize winner.  Apple became the first Laureate partner with the Fund, with the goal of getting 100,000 girls into education in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey and Nigeria. And now, that collaboration is expanding to Latin America. Apple has a very important role creating something sustainable which can be scaled globally, especially when you are a Global Company influencing trends on all levels as well being the world's most valuable brand.

KNPO hope working with Apple one day and have already a road safety project custom-made for Apple. KNPO’s App is already available at the Apple App Store. The Apple App Store has such reach that the right app can make a real difference.

My hope is that every girl, from Rio to Riyadh, can be free to choose her own future
— Malala Yousafzai
Apple CEO Tim Cook and Malala Yousafzai visit with Lebanese and Syrian students in Beirut.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Malala Yousafzai visit with Lebanese and Syrian students in Beirut.

Sweden will host the Third High-Level Global Conference on Road Safety

The UN General Assembly decided last April on a number of steps to accelerate progress towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals linked to road safety. Among them are acceptance of the offer of the Government of Sweden to host the Third High-Level Global Conference on Road Safety, consensus on 12 global road safety performance targets and establishment of the UN Road Safety Trust Fund. These decisions are reflected in a new UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/72/271 which was tabled by the Government of the Russian Federation and co-sponsored by more than 70 countries.

The new UN General Assembly resolution welcomes the Government of Sweden's offer to host the next in the series of conferences in early 2020. Sweden is one of the best performing countries in the world in road safety, and therefore a fitting host for the event which is set to mark achievements across the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.

The new UN General Assembly resolution also expresses concern that the number of road traffic crashes remains unacceptably high - with some 1.3 million fatalities and as many as 50 million injuries annually - and that they are the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29 years worldwide. At the current rate of progress, the Sustainable Development Goal target 3.6 to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020 will not be met.

The Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety (the Alliance) welcomes the new UN Road Safety Trust Fund, which was launched at UN General Assembly.  The Alliance and its members have advocated for global road safety funding that includes civil society for a long time. The launch of the fund demonstrates that the NGO voice has been heard. We will continue to push to ensure a multi-sectoral approach and NGO representation in all decision-making steps for the fund.  KNPO is a member of the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety.

The Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety (the Alliance) welcomes the new UN Road Safety Trust Fund, which was launched at UN General Assembly.

The Alliance and its members have advocated for global road safety funding that includes civil society for a long time. The launch of the fund demonstrates that the NGO voice has been heard. We will continue to push to ensure a multi-sectoral approach and NGO representation in all decision-making steps for the fund.  KNPO is a member of the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety.

The Solar Charged Jacket

While this is the kind of technology that would normally live and die in an innovation lab, the Solar Charged Jacket by vollebak performs amazingly out on dark roads. It stores sunlight, protects you from rain and headwinds, and glows in the dark. The logic behind the jacket is really simple: the longer you charge it, and the brighter the source you charge it with, the more energy it will absorb and the longer and brighter it will glow. The glow is at its brightest immediately after it has been charged but can remain for up to 12 hours.


Even if we we are coming out from the dark season, approaching summer. It's  still important that one wears reflectors and reflective clothes during the dark hours, even if you live or work in the big city. More accidents take place in urban than rural areas. Rain and fog reduce drivers' ability to see, especially in the dark. The car’s windows may be fogged up. Also, dirty windshields or headlights have an adverse effect on visibility.

KNPO recommend you to wear reflective gear, and this very cool and hi-tech jacket could probably save many joggers and cyclists during their evening training.

71 dead in road accidents in first two months of 2018

A total of 71 people have died in road accidents in Bulgaria in the first two months of 2018, according to statistics posted by the country’s Interior Ministry on March 1. Since January 1, there  have been 909 accidents on Bulgaria’s roads.

Interior Minister Valentin Radev, speaking at his monthly briefing on February 27, said that road accidents in Bulgaria were down by seven per cent and the number of deaths had fallen by four per cent. In 2017, for the first time in five years, there had been a decrease in serious road traffic accidents, deaths and injuries, compared with the previous year.

Among the 28 countries of the EU, Bulgaria has the highest road death rate, with contributing factors including speeding, reckless driving and drink-driving.


KNPO need your help!

KNPO launched recently the BLINK 1.1. The BLINK App is for pedestrians walking or jogging by a road at night. By using the BLINK App the pedestrian's phone will become a beacon, allowing them to be seen from 5 times further away.

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We will provide the instructions within the next week. Therefore, we are looking for volunteers who could help us translating these simple instructions, in different languages from English. If you are interested to help us translating, please e-mail us the language in which you can help to translate to, and your details at info@knpo.org. These instructions should not exceed one page of text.


The KNPO Team

Repeat traffic offenders in Estonia get disturbing Christmas cards.

Estonian police did something smart, they sent 700 Christmas cards to the country’s worst drivers, hoping that pictures of car crashes and road accident statistics will get repeat offenders to change their ways.

Read more

Estonian police and Border Guard Board leading public order officer Sirle Loigo shows Christmas cards to be sent to drivers with five or more driving offences recorded during the year, in Tallinn, Estonia December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Janis Laizans

Estonian police and Border Guard Board leading public order officer Sirle Loigo shows Christmas cards to be sent to drivers with five or more driving offences recorded during the year, in Tallinn, Estonia December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Janis Laizans

60 WHO members reach consensus

Last November in Geneva, World Health Organization Member States have concluded work on a comprehensive set of global road safety targets to measure progress on addressing key risk factors and service delivery mechanisms. At the meeting Member States were represented by senior government officials from capital cities and Geneva-based diplomatic missions, from a broad range of sectors, including health, transport, interior and police, among others.

Road traffic injuries are the tenth leading cause of death globally, responsible for around 1.3 million deaths each year and as many as 50 million injuries. To accelerate action to reduce this burden, the UN General Assembly declared a Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. 

Read more

Governments reached consensus on the targets at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

Governments reached consensus on the targets at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

A new tool for traffic safety

The Dutch National Police and Dutch Association of Insurers have created an innovative cooperation under the name STAR (Smart Traffic Accident Reporting). Aimed to create an efficient accident reporting for reliable accident analyses to obtain a more comprehensive impression of the situation.

Traffic accident registration in the Netherlands suffers from major under-registration. A lack of good accident data threatens the successful Dutch approach to traffic safety. Policy monitoring, analyses and evaluations will be less possible even though new technologies can actually achieve improvements. The societal importance of improving accident registration in the short term is huge. The three initiators have organised widespread societal support by making relevant traffic safety partners stakeholders in STAR.


The MobileDamageReporting app was renewed by insurers as part of the STAR project. Various modifications have been made to be able to report accidents between all manner of traffic participants. Even self-caused accidents by vehicles that have no license plates such as cyclists can now be reported. It is also currently possible to report accidents that involved injuries.


User-friendliness has remained central, as simple reporting increases use. For instance the app now uses GPS to determine location. The license plate allows the app to collect vehicle and insurance data automatically as entering the postcode and house number suffices to ascertain the address details of the people involved

STAR will enable the police to introduce more effective traffic control at the relevant locations. Insurers view MobileDamageReporting as a customer-friendly, efficient replacement for the European damage claim form. Insurers have a huge interest in limiting injury and damage.

Road managers will gain improved insight into infrastructure safety as well as very relevant information on accident causes. This makes preventative measures much more efficient to apply and substantiate.

With the introduction of ReportCharacteristicsPlus form, the police took their first big step
towards improving registrations. With over 80,000 registrations annually, this has provided
much better insight into traffic situations. The registrations are stored centrally and can be
viewed using VIA Signal. These reports are constantly updated. 

8 out of 10 drivers who struck people at night didn't see them


According to the 2016 annual study from the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in the United States last year jumped by an estimated ten percent, the largest year-to-year increase since the statistics started being tracked four decades ago. Pedestrians now account for about 15 percent of all motor vehicle crash–related deaths, up from 11 percent a decade ago, the report concludes. The study also notes that 72% of the pedestrian fatalities happened after dark.

Meanwhile In Boston

Unfortunately, an average of two pedestrians are hit by cars every day - people like you and me who are simply trying to get across the street.

The Mayor of America’s Walking City, Mr. Martin J. Walsh announced that the City of Boston was adopting Vision Zero. Vision Zero Boston is our commitment to focus the city’s resources on proven strategies to eliminate fatal and serious traffic crashes in the city by 2030.

Bravo Mayor Walsh.

Honolulu Bans Crossing the Street While Texting

Pedestrians listening to music, texting, talking or otherwise absorbed in their phones are making themselves more vulnerable by tuning out traffic around them, experts say.Honolulu, USA has banned pedestrians from using electronic devices while crossing roads or highways.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed the bill this week, but it doesn’t take effect until October 25th. Offenders who can’t resist putting their lives in danger to send a text could be fined up to $35 the first time they’re caught, $75 for a second violation in the same year and up to $99 if caught a third time.



Honolulu isn’t the first city to impose legal measures to help keep pedestrians and drivers safe from digital distractions, and it likely won’t be the last, New Jersey banned texting and crossing the street in 2012.

All around the world cities work on safer environment for pedestrians,  a city in Germany installed traffic lights on the ground to try and get texters to look up, Chongqing, China, has a cellphone lane to keep people with their heads bent downwards away from other pedestrians. 

The dangers of distracted driving are well known and have sparked new laws, but safety experts are increasingly concerned about a more recent trend: distracted walking.

Get a Safety Beacon while Jogging

Everyone agrees that distracted driving is bad. And the most common distraction just might be your phone. Every year in the U.S., almost a half million people are injured or killed in traffic accidents attributed to the combination of texting and driving. The U.S. has the unwanted lead in this problem, far exceeding similar accidents in other countries around the world. An astounding 69% of drivers (aged 18-64) in the U.S. admitted to using their cell phone while driving during the previous month. Compare this to a European low of 29% in the United Kingdom or 59% in Portugal.

Due to the obvious dangers, inherent in texting or email messaging while driving, several industry responses have been initiated in recent years. Hand-free cell phones, the Bluetooth models, and other devices have been re-engineered for safer use by drivers. Voice activated apps are now available that allow messaging without needing to hold the phone or manually text the message.


"Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode

The next version of Apple iOS features something called driving mode. Your phone will know you are driving, and refrain from showing notifications until you've stopped. KNPO started to develop such program 2 years ago but stopped due to problems finding a sponsor. We are now happy that Apple continued and did finish our concept as well as making it a standard, Bravo Apple.


Safety Beacon, A Smarter Feature

Last year KNPO developed an app called BLINK, for smartphones that uses the flash and screen of the smartphone to emit a flashing light on both sides of the phone, as a beacon in the dark while you’re jogging. The sequence of light is not disturbing, nor drains the batteries more than any other application.

By using the BLINK App when walking or jogging in the evening, you will be seen at five times further away than without, giving drivers crucial time to stop or swerve around. Today BLINK is available for Android and iOS.

Apple is expected to launch the new Apple Watch operating system called watchOS 4 later this year with a similar function to KNPO's BLINK, “a new blinking light activated via Control Centre - useful for safety on night runs”.


A report released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that the number of pedestrians killed in traffic jumped 11 percent last year, to nearly 6,000. That's the biggest single-year increase in pedestrian fatalities ever, and the highest number in more than two decades.

Drivers distracted by their devices are a well-documented, rising cause of traffic crashes, but there are a growing number of pedestrians, too, who can become oblivious to traffic around them.

It’s all about keeping your eyes on the road
— Richard Ahlstrom, KNPO

The Only Man Who Can Survive A Car Crash

Meet Graham, the only person designed to survive on our roads. Part interactive sculpture, part educational tool and ultimately a catalyst for conversation, Graham shows us how the human body would need to change to survive a car crash. Using decades of road safety data, medical research and creativity a trauma surgeon, a road safety engineer and a world-renowned artist re-imagined the human form to deliver evolution underpinned by evidence.

Around 186 300 children under 18 years die from road traffic crashes annually, and worldwide the total number of road traffic deaths remains unacceptably high at 1.24 million per year.

Graham was created by artist Patricia Piccinini, with help from a trauma surgeon and an accident research engineer, after she was commissioned to study the effects of road trauma on the human body.  More info: Meetgraham.com 

Another bus crash claims 10 lives in Malawi last week.

Road safety is a major problem in Malawi, last Wednesday 10 passengers died and a dozen others was severely injured after that a bus was involve in a single-vehicle collision along the M1 Road in Ntcheuin, Malawi.

Road traffic in Malawi

Road traffic in Malawi

Witnesses said that the speeding bus burst its left front tyre after leaving the Chingeni police road block and overtaking several vehicles.

Road traffic injuries constitute a major health and development problem the world over but especially in the African Region. About 20 road traffic collisions occur every day in Malawi, two of which are fatal and two serious injuries. About 1 000 people are killed in road traffic crashes in Malawi every year.

43 people died and 24 others were injured when bus in Zimbabwe lost control and rammed into a tree, one week earlier, preceding another bus crash in South Africa where at least 20 schoolchildren was killed on a road between the towns of Bronkhorstspruit and Verena, near Pretoria. Victims were aged between 5 and 10 years old.

Kids Non-Profit Organization is dedicated to reduce the number of deaths and injuries in traffic through education using smart, effective actions in collaboration with partners.