CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Pedestrian fatalities in the city of Charlotte – which have jumped in recent years – are down slightly from last year.
As of May 31, there had been eight pedestrian fatalities compared with 10 at the same point last year, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Overall in 2012, there were 21 pedestrian fatalities in Charlotte.
The total number of car crashes involving pedestrians in Charlotte are also down, according to NCDOT. There were 138 crashes by May 31, compared with 164 crashes last year.
There has been at least one other pedestrian fatality since NCDOT compiled its data.
Darryle Gene Dendy, 53, was killed when he ran across North Tryon Street on June 30. He wasn’t crossing at an intersection or a crosswalk.
Despite the slight drop, the pedestrian death rate last year was 1.07 per million vehicle miles traveled, almost triple the rate from five years earlier.
Linda Durrett, a spokeswoman for the Charlotte Department of Transportation, said most of the deaths occurred on major thoroughfares.
Crashes in uptown Charlotte last year spurred an education and enforcement campaign, including jaywalking tickets.
Police ticketed 177 jaywalkers during a three-week period last summer. Jaywalkers were fined $213 and drivers who didn’t yield to pedestrians had to pay $223.
“The police department cannot enforce its way out of this problem,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Maj. Jeff Estes said. “We believe a solid education component campaign is the way we really reduce pedestrian fatalities in the long term.”
Turning cellphones off while walking could lead to safer conditions for pedestrians. It is not known whether cellphones were a factor in pedestrian deaths in Charlotte.
A study by Jack Nasar, a professor at Ohio State University, says that cellphones are distracting pedestrians from their surrounding, causing injuries. In 2010, more than 1,500 people nationwide went to emergency rooms for injuries incurred while using cellphones, almost three times the number from 2004.
The study says that pedestrians talking on cellphones are putting themselves at a greater risk for injury than texting and walking.