Drivers struck and killed an estimated 7,485 people on foot in 2021 – the most pedestrian deaths in a single year in four decades, according to a new estimate released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

Last month, GHSA offered a preview of state and national pedestrian traffic deaths for the first six months of 2021 based on preliminary data reported by the State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.).

The report warned that the number of pedestrian deaths increased significantly as speeding, impaired and distracted driving, and other dangerous driving behaviors proliferated.

This new, comprehensive report, Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2021 Preliminary Data, provides a detailed look at projected pedestrian fatalities for the full year using additional preliminary data provided by the SHSOs.

The new projection found that the 7,485 pedestrian deaths in 2021 was an increase of 12% from the previous year, resulting in 774 additional lives lost. Nationwide, there were 2.32 pedestrian deaths per billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2021, which is similar to 2020 but well above the pre-pandemic average of 1.9.

“This is heartbreaking and unacceptable,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins.

“The pandemic has caused so much death and damage, it’s frustrating to see even more lives needlessly taken due to dangerous driving.

“We must address the root causes of the pedestrian safety crisis – speeding and other dangerous driving behaviors, inadequate infrastructure, and roads designed for vehicle speed instead of safety – to reverse this trend and ensure people can walk safely.”