Report: 'Unprecedented increases' in US pedestrian fatalities this year
Officials are sounding the alarm about the surging number of pedestrian fatalities recorded in the U.S.
A press release on Thursday states, "The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) projects an 11 percent increase in the number of persons on foot killed on U.S. roadways last year, compared to 2015."
The release adds, "This would represent the steepest year-to-year increase since record-keeping began, both in terms of number of deaths and percent increase."
RELATED: US News ranks the 10 best states in America
The group's estimate was based on 2,660 pedestrian fatalities reported by states in the first half of 2016 versus 2,486 deaths during the same period in 2015, along with adjustments for underreporting and prior trends.
It also notes that about 15 percent of vehicle deaths involve pedestrians.
SEE ALSO: Tetris may be the key to ending PTSD
The GHSA has attributed the possible causes to an increase in driving due, in part, to low gas prices, more pedestrian activity, and rising smartphone use which the group calls "a frequent source of mental and visual distraction for both walkers and drivers."
Richard Retting, who authored the report, told the Washington Post, "This is the second year in a row that we've seen unprecedented increases in pedestrian fatalities, which is both sad and alarming."
He is hoping the findings can help officials identify ways to "reverse the trend."