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Pedestrians caught to death | “We erased ten years of gains”



The number of people killed by the driver of a motor vehicle while traveling on foot is rising sharply in North America. A phenomenon due to the aging of the population and to developments that prioritize motorized vehicles. Explanations.


Increase in the number of pedestrians killed in the United States in nine years. Pedestrian deaths after being struck by a motor vehicle increased by 46% in the United States from 2010 to 2019, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. During this period, there was also a 5% increase in the number of fatalities among vehicle occupants.


3 out of 4

This is the proportion of fatal collisions that occur with a pedestrian after dark in the United States, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.


Number of pedestrian deaths in 2020 in the United States, an increase of 5% compared to the previous year, when 6,412 people were killed in a collision with a motor vehicle.

A similar trend in Quebec

The share of pedestrian fatalities is increasing year by year. The road safety record is improving for all users, but with the exception of the pandemic, it has worsened for pedestrians. We erased ten years of gains. It is believed that the record has been better here than in the United States during the pandemic in part because the containment measures were more severe here and travel has decreased significantly, especially travel by the elderly.

Sandrine Cabana-Degani, Director of Piétons Québec

Source: Pedestrians Quebec

Often distracted drivers

Share of responsibility for distraction in bodily accidents involving at least one pedestrian as a victim in Quebec, according to the SAAQ:

  • Drivers: 68%
  • Pedestrians: 15%
  • Both parties: 17%

Factors involved in pedestrian deaths

  • Road network developed to prioritize the fluidity of motorized transport to the detriment of the safety of all users
  • Increase in mass and size of SUVs
  • Aging of the population which affects the speed of movement of pedestrians

Source: Pedestrians Quebec


The intersection of route 235 and rang Séraphine, in Ange-Gardien, in Montérégie. Residents of the area denounced the speed limit for cars and the lack of protection for pedestrians.

In Quebec, there are large numbered roads that cross the villages at high speed. It’s atrocious, there is really a negligence of the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. People walk more than before, we want to be active, we have to take that into account. Even on major roads, arrangements will have to be made to make all journeys safer, not just journeys made in a vehicle.

The Dr Patrick Morency, Medical Adviser affiliated with the Montreal Public Health Department

Almost 50%


The number of elderly pedestrians fatally struck is much higher than the demographic weight of seniors in Quebec.

This is the proportion of people aged 65 and over in all pedestrian deaths in Quebec in recent years. This is more than double their demographic weight, which is about 20%.

Sources: Pedestrians Quebec, INSPQ


Illustration of Piétons Québec showing that crossing times are too short for the elderly in particular, according to the standards of the Ministère des Transports du Québec

Some elderly people who walk have reduced vision. Often, the SAAQ recommends that we as pedestrians establish visual contact with the driver of a vehicle, but a senior may not have the ability to establish this contact. Mobility is diminished, reflexes… Municipalities must adopt facilities that take into account the needs of pedestrians in general and the elderly in particular.

Sandrine Cabana-Degani, Director of Piétons Québec


SUVs involved in accidents with pedestrians generally cause more serious injuries.

3.4 times

It’s the increased risk of death for a pedestrian when hit by an SUV rather than a car, according to a study by the United States Government Accountability Office. SUVs are deadlier because they hit the victim in the vital organs, rather than the legs.

When the vehicle becomes a weapon

The issue of ramming vehicles, used by their driver to injure or kill people, has also resurfaced in the United States in recent years – particularly in the wake of the numerous demonstrations which followed the murder of George Floyd, killed by the police officer of Minneapolis Derek Chauvin. Between the death of Mr. Floyd on May 25, 2020, and September 30, 2021, drivers of vehicles drove into protesters at least 139 times in the United States, according to an analysis carried out by the Boston Globe. The daily listed 3 dead and at least 100 people injured in these events. In the majority of cases, the driver went unpunished: charges were filed in only 65 cases – less than half of them – and just 4 drivers were convicted of a crime. In the United States, several states are passing laws giving immunity to drivers who injure or kill protesters while trying to “flee” a protest or “get away” from protesters.

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