Number of pedestrians dying on Harris County roads continues to climb, 7 killed in past 10 days

Traffic heads north on TX-99, also known as the Grand Parkway near its intersection with I-10 on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Katy.
Traffic heads north on TX-99, also known as the Grand Parkway near its intersection with I-10 on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Katy. Jon Shapley/Staff photographer

Seven pedestrians have died in the past 10 days on Harris County roads . But that's not unusual for the Greater Houston area .

According to data compiled by the Chronicle, there have been more than 50 pedestrian deaths so far in 2023 — and it's only April. Data shows 21 people were killed in January, 13 in February and 11 in March.

The most recent pedestrian death occurred Tuesday night and involved a 71-year-old woman who was struck and killed by a car as she was trying to walk across the street in the 6600 block of Hillcroft Street. Witnesses told investigators the woman had just exited a Metro bus before the fatal crash.

In the past two years, the most pedestrian deaths in a single month occurred December 2022 when 26 people were killed. From January 2021 to December 2022, there were 358 pedestrian deaths, an average of nearly 15 a month, data shows.

Pedestrian deaths nationwide have increased by 18 percent , or 519 additional lives lost, between the first half of 2019 and 2022, according to data analysis conducted by Elizabeth Petraglia of research firm Westat. Nationally, there were 1.04 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people in 2022, a significant increase from 0.90 in 2019.

Drivers struck and killed approximately 7,485 people walking on foot in 2021 — the most pedestrian deaths in a single year in 40 years — for an average of 20 deaths per day, according to an estimate released in May 2022 by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The first 10 days of each of the past six months have seen a high number of pedestrian deaths. They accounted for 10 of 26 total deaths in December 2022, four of 14 in November 2022, six of 21 in October 2022, nine of 21 in January, six of 13 in February and five of 11 in March, Chronicle data shows.

Tips on how to remain safe

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided some tips on how pedestrians can remain safe:

  • Increase your visibility when walking at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing reflective clothing, such as reflective vests.
  • Cross streets at a designated crosswalk or intersection whenever possible.
  • Walk on a sidewalk or path instead of the road. Walk on the shoulder, facing traffic, if a sidewalk or path is not available.
  • Avoid using electronic devices such as ear buds, which can cause distractions when you are walking.
  • Avoid walking if you have been using drugs or drinking alcohol, which can impair judgment and coordination. Alcohol was involved for the driver and/or pedestrian in nearly half, about 46 percent, of crashes resulting in a pedestrian death in 2019.

People age 65 and older accounted for around 17 percent of the U.S. population in 2020. However, the group represented 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths during the same year, according to the CDC.

Roughly 20.4 percent of children younger than 15, were pedestrians killed in crashes in 2020. The same year, 17 percent of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle accidents were age 15 and older, according to the CDC.