Angel Reyes III Auto Accidents, Distracted Driving

are rising nationwide, and pedestrians and bicyclists account for close to 70 percent of the victims, according to a new report, as more people cycle to work and motor-vehicle fatalities are at a near-decade-high level.

The number of hit-and-run fatalities jumped 61 percent from 2009 to 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, according to the report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

About 68 percent of fatal hit-and-run victims in 2016 were pedestrians or cyclists, compared with 61 percent a decade earlier, according to federal data cited in the report.

In 2016, 1,980 fatal hit-and-run crashes across the U.S. resulted in 2,049 deaths—both record highs in the roughly four decades that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has tracked such data, the report said.

“On the one hand, these statistics are a bit deflating. On the other hand, we can hope they serve as a wake-up call,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research.

A big reason for the rise in fatal hit-and-run crashes is that deadly car crashes are up overall, the foundation said. Traffic-related fatalities surpassed 40,000 last year, the second year in a row, according to the National Safety Council.

Mr. Nelson said one possible reason those deaths have risen is growing distraction in the smartphone era. A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association said texting by drivers and pedestrians alike may help explain why
pedestrian deaths have hit their highest levels in decades.

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