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