PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new study revealed that pedestrian deaths are on the rise nationwide and while that isn’t the case in Rhode Island, the state’s Department of Transportation says changes still need to be made.
According to data from the Governors Highway Safety Association, 6,227 pedestrians died after being hit on U.S. roads in 2018, which is a 35 percent increase over the past decade.
The rate has held steady in Rhode Island, with the state averaging 12 fatalities a year.
“It took a lot of work to keep it steady but in our opinion, it’s not good enough. We really need to get to zero,” RIDOT managing engineer Bob Rocchio said Thursday.
Rocchio said Rhode Island has made a lot of changes in the past 10 years, with a focus on engineering, education, and enforcement. For example, a new law requires RIDOT to consider pedestrian safety for every road project.
However, RIDOT can only do so much, according to Rocchio, and drivers and pedestrians need to do their part, namely paying attention when out and about.
“Distraction is coming into play more and more, so that is one of the areas that we have to try and work on, to get people to put away their phones,” Rocchio said.
Rocchio also noted that 80 percent of pedestrian deaths in Rhode Island happen between 4 p.m. and midnight.