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Pedestrian deaths hit 28-year high, suggesting SUV boom raises safety risks

U.S. pedestrian deaths hit a 28-year high in 2018, according to new estimates that suggest the nation's SUV boom is becoming increasingly deadly.

The Governors Highway Safety Association estimated that pedestrian deaths across the nation rose 4 percent to 6,227 last year.

That full-year figure — which is based on a statistical analysis of the first six months of the year — would mark the most pedestrian fatalities since 1990.

The GHSA reported that the number of pedestrian deaths involving SUVs increased by 50 percent from 2013 through 2017, while the number of pedestrian deaths caused by passenger cars increased by 30 percent over that same period. That reflects booming sales of SUVs and the fact that pedestrians are much less likely to survive the impact of an SUV.

It's "clearly a factor," GHSA executive director Jonathan Adkins said in an interview. "We're going in the wrong direction."

In a special series, "Death on Foot," the USA TODAY Network and Detroit Free Press reported in June that the nation's SUV boom was likely a leading cause of the nation's pedestrian safety crisis.

Pedestrian deaths are up 51.5 percent since hitting a low of 4,109 in 2009, according to GHSA. They now make up 16 percent of all road deaths, up from 12 percent in 2009.

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