Pedestrian deaths hit 7-year high in Omaha in 2022

Pedestrian crash deaths hit a seven-year high in Omaha in 2022.
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 10:29 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Across the metro in 2022, there was a significant uptick in pedestrians killed after getting hit by cars.

“We had 12 this year -- you can actually count it as 13,” says Omaha Police Lt. Allen Straub. “One of the females that was hit was 22 weeks pregnant. For us, that’s a lot. That’s probably 13 too many.”

In 2021, there were five deaths, and four in 2020. Lt. Straub says the unfortunate truth behind the numbers this year is that it’s not always due to distracted or reckless drivers.

“Seven of those people we suspect to be under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, and a lot of them were crossing mid-block,” Straub said. “They were crossing when there was other traffic present, not using crosswalks, crossing where there’s either dim lighting or no lighting.”

All 12 pedestrian deaths happened at night - and they were spread across the city. With this 7-year high, Vision Zero is as important as ever.

“It’s really concerning, because it’s something that in Vision Zero, we really feel that these are preventable deaths,” said Jeff Sobczyk.

The Vision Zero stratege is to eliminate traffic deaths. Omaha’s Vision Zero Task Force will present their action plan to the city this summer. In it will be a series of recommendations on how lawmakers might prioritize safety.

“A lot of road infrastructure ideas and how to calm traffic using a lot engineering principles to slow vehicle speeds down,” Sobczyk said. “When you do that, you not only increase the safety of the driver behind the wheel, but the vulnerable users outside.”

Sobczyk says the culture shift they’re hoping for will take time and education for all road users, drivers, riders and pedestrians. Lt. Straub says he’s hoping for a safer 2023.

“Probably one of the worst parts of the job is having to tell a loved one that a family member is gone.”