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Stuffed animals, picture frames, flowers and candles lay on the corner of West Roosevelt Avenue and Midland Boulevard in Nampa on Dec. 9, 2020, in tribute to 4-year-old Kyanne Guest, who was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing the intersection as a pedestrian on Dec. 1.

Pedestrian fatalities in the United States are up from 4,100 in 2009 to nearly 6,300 deaths in 2018, a 53% increase in just 10 years.

The disturbing trend follows 30 years of steady decreases and highlights the importance of continued vigilance by all road users, according to a press release from AAA Idaho.

In Idaho, pedestrian fatalities increased by 70% over the same time period, rising from 10 to 17 deaths per year. While conditions improved slightly in 2019 (14 deaths) and 2020 (an estimated 11 deaths during the reduced traffic caused by the pandemic), AAA and its safety partners say they remain focused on the goal of zero deaths.

According to AAA’s review of NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the number of pedestrians aged 60 to 69 who were involved in a fatal crash more than doubled over the study period. And while the number of pedestrians killed in rural crashes remained constant, the number of deaths on busy urban roads grew by 70%, with 68% of the increase on roads with speed limits of 40 mph or faster.

“With more people walking for exercise or to get to work or school during the pandemic, we all need to do our part to protect pedestrians,” AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde said in a statement. “We’ve got to keep things moving in the right direction.”

AAA’s new research also finds that the number of pedestrians killed at non-intersection locations without crosswalks increased by 70% over the study period, while the number killed at intersections or marked crosswalks remained unchanged. In other words, pedestrians were safer when they crossed the road where drivers expected them to be.

“The number of pedestrians who were fatally struck while walking along the roadway more than doubled, which dispels the notion that the only risk is to people who are crossing the street,” Conde said. “In addition, the number of vehicles 15 years old or older that were involved in fatal pedestrian crashes nearly tripled, so that really emphasizes the importance of staying up on routine maintenance to keep safety equipment like brakes, headlights and tires in good working order.”

Recent incidents in the Treasure Valley include:

  • died after being hit in the 400 block of Second Avenue North on Friday. Police are still searching for the driver.
  • and another girl injured on Dec. 1 when they were hit by a truck while crossing Midland Boulevard at the Roosevelt Avenue intersection in Nampa. The driver stayed on scene and cooperated with police.
  • received non-life-threatening injuries when he was hit by a pickup while riding his scooter through a crosswalk on West Hidden Brook Drive at the Star Road intersection. The driver was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
  • died in the hospital after being struck by a car on Nov. 5 while walking on 11th Avenue South in Nampa near the intersection at 12th Street South. The driver fled the scene and was later arrested.

A 38-year-old man died after being struck by a vehicle the night of Aug. 23 while crossing the street at West Fairview Avenue and North Raymond Street. The driver cooperated with police.