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Pedestrian Fatalities on the Rise

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Crossing the street is something we do daily, and most of us don’t really think about. From a young age, we’ve been ...

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Crossing the street is something we do daily, and most of us don't really think about. From a young age, we've been taught to look both ways and pay attention to traffic.

"I don't really think about, 'Oh, my life is at risk.' I just think about how I'm trying to get to the other side most of the time," Bayleigh Guiser said.

According to a new report by the Governor's Highway Safety Association, the number of pedestrian deaths in the United States has reached a 28-year high. That includes Pennsylvania. The report blames that on the growth in smartphone usage, as well as an increase in SUV and truck sales.

Because of the increase in pedestrian fatalities, the group Safe Kids Worldwide increased its programs inside schools.

"Any traffic injury or fatality is one too many, so we want to bring those numbers down to zero, which is a lofty goal. Anything we can do to help get that number down is important," Kim Smith said.

Kim Smith is a Safety Press Officer for PennDOT. She spoke to freshmen at South Williamsport Junior Senior High School about being safe pedestrians.

"Using the crosswalk, making eye contact with the drivers, wearing bright clothes, which is a big one, especially at night," Smith said.

Some students admit it's easy to be distracted while crossing the street.

"Usually on my phone texting people or on my phone maybe," Quaid Molino said.

The students were blindfolded to demonstrate distracted walking.

"Do not be on your phone when you're crossing the street. Always look both ways. Just be as safe as you can crossing the street," Guiser said.

"I'm going to be more careful, check left and right," Molino said.

PennDOT believes teaching people at a young age will help prevent pedestrian fatalities.