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William C. James, 67, died  as a result of the injuries sustained after being hit by a Chevrolet pick-up truck on Dec. 9 while attempting to cross westbound South Nevada Avenue mid-block. James was not using a designated crosswalk at the time of the crash. Photo courtesy KKTV.

From 2008 to 2018, the number of pedestrians killed annually on Colorado’s streets increased by 89%, according to a new study from the American Automobile Association.

Nationally, more pedestrians were killed in 2018 than any year since 1990 and Colorado’s increase in deaths was significantly higher than the national average of 55%.

“That pedestrian deaths here outpace the national average should ring alarm bells," Skyler McKinley with AAA Colorado said. "Drivers, pedestrians and, most importantly, governments need to do more to protect our most vulnerable."

Of the national death increase, 93% were from crashes in urban areas and deaths at non-crosswalks increased by 70%, according to the study.

The study also found that non-white pedestrians are over-represented among fatalities. Pedestrian deaths among Black and Hispanic pedestrians have increased by a larger percentage than among white pedestrians.

In 2018, 84% of pedestrian fatalities happened on roads with speed limits of 30 mph or higher and 75% happened in the darkness.

The number of pedestrians killed in the darkness in 2018 was higher than the total number of pedestrian fatalities in 2009, 2012 and 2011.

Of pedestrian victims, 32% were under the influence of alcohol; however, sober pedestrian fatalities increased by a larger amount. In 2018, the number of sober pedestrians killed was almost as high as the total fatalities in 2009.

"It's imperative we avoid a blame game between pedestrians and motorists," McKinley said. "Everybody has the same right to use our transportation infrastructure without fearing for their life.”

“We can reverse this trend, but it's going to take working together."

AAA recommends drivers watch for pedestrians at all times, follow posted speed limits, avoid using phones while driving, always yield at cross walks and use headlights and turn signals.

For pedestrians, AAA recommends to never assume a driver will yield, always use crosswalks, stay on sidewalks when possible and know and follow all traffic rules, signs and signals.

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