A 2020 study “United States Pedestrian Fatality Trends, 1977 to 2016” by Robert J. Schneider (accessible here behind a paywall) has data to explain why the death toll on roads keeps going up.
The evidence suggests that most deaths involve someone trying to cross a major road without safe facilities. Overall, most deaths occurred in a travel lane (90 percent), away from intersections (80 percent), and on roads with speed limits of at least 35 mph (70 percent). Half occurred on roads with four lanes or more (50 percent). These conditions have only gotten worse. The share of deaths on high-speed roads increased from 60 to 76 percent, and deaths on wider roads increased from 41 to 58 percent.
Deaths involving larger vehicles have also shot up in recent years. Since the mid-1980s, the share of deaths involving trucks, vans, and SUVs increased from 22 to 44 percent.
As if it wasn’t already obvious: our roads and vehicles are deadly by design.