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The number of pedestrian deaths just keep going up. By June of 2023, the number of pedestrians killed by cars–per capita–was at the highest level in 41 years. In 2022, 7,500 people were struck and killed by vehicles in the U.S. For 2023, that number finally fell in certain states. But it just keeps going up in other states.

The Governors’ Highway Safety Association says one reason is that “The U.S. vehicle fleet is increasingly dominated by larger, heavier vehicles that are more likely to injure or kill people walking.” In addition, automakers are adding power with every redesign.

Another factor may be the number of folks distracted by their phones or drivers distracted by large touchscreens in the latest infotainment systems.

Finally, the growing blindspots around trucks and SUVs have proven deadly. The tall grilles and high hoods currently in style for trucks or SUVs make them especially deadly to children, even while moving slowly through a parking log. Another major blindspot is caused by driver’s side A-Pillars which have grown to support these heavier vehicles in case of a rollover. But a side effect may be that trucks and SUVs are more likely to hit a pedestrian while turning left through an intersection than turning right.

Red traffic light above an empty street in a New York City neighborhood.
New York City street | Hardik Pandya via Unsplash

Many cities are fed up with the high number of pedestrian deaths. San Francisco is stepping up enforcement of its current speed limits. Denver Colorado has levied a “bloat fee” on heavy vehicles to fund pedestrian protection projects. And New York State just gave New York City the authority to drop the speed limits of its roads as low as 10 mph.

This law is called “Sammy’s Law” in honor of Sammy Eckstein who was run over and killed in 2013, at just 12 years old. There’s much debate as to whether New York City’s Mayor Adams will drop speed limits. And if so, how much. But its worth noting that he stood with Sammy’s parents at the bill’s signing.

What would a 20 mph, 15 mph, or even 10 mph speed limit on certain roads mean for New York City residents? Some times of day, it wouldn’t effect them at all. According to a study by TomTom, the average rush hour speed across the entire city is just 12.4 mph.

That said, a 10 mph speed limit has many critics. I mean, the average human can sprint 18 mph. If you’ve ever tried to keep your speed under 10 mph, you noticed it felt absurdly slow. Some would argue that Mayor Adams should crack down on distracted driving instead. We’ll just have to wait and see what he decides.

Next, read about what gives NYC the worst traffic in the US–despite having the fewest cars, or learn more about Sammy’s Law in the video below: