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Pedestrian Deaths In D.C. And Maryland Rose In 2013, Says Report

A new report on pedestrian fatalities is being released today — and the news isn't good.

Total pedestrian fatalities in the D.C. region increased during the first six months of 2013, compared to the same period the year prior, according to a nationwide study released today by the Governor's Highway Safety Association.

To break it down by jurisdiction, the number of pedestrians killed by cars rose from three to seven in D.C. and from 45 to 58 in Maryland. In Virginia, pedestrian deaths dropped from 41 to 37.

The report doesn't explicitly assign blame for the increasing number of deaths, but it does hypothesize that distracted driving and an increase in walking play a role. It also finds that pedestrians over the age of 70 are more likely to be victims, and that a greater proportion of fatalities occur at night. In many cases, the report says, alcohol plays a role.

Allan Williams, the report's author and former chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, says that the findings are a wake up call for legislators and planners.

"A lot of organizations now are encouraging people to walk for health and environmental reasons, and I think more people are doing that. But we ought to figure out how to protect these people when they are out there intermingling with cars and other motor vehicles," he says.

He says one way to protect pedestrians is to lower speed limits, and he credits D.C.'s network of speed and red light cameras for slowing drivers down. One recent D.C. report found that speed cameras helped slow drivers and prevent accidents.

Nationally, for the first time since 2009, the number of pedestrians killed on U.S. roadways is declining, down nearly nine percent when compared with the first six months of 2012.

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