The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has reported nearly 6,000 pedestrian deaths in 2016, an 11% increase that surpassed motorist fatalities. This is the largest spike in more than 40 years. The second largest spike was in 2015.

Researchers believe that despite several factors such as improved economy, increased miles driven in 2016, lower gas prices and more people walking for exercise, the spike is likely due to distraction by cellphones and electronic devices. Safety director Richard Retting of Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants who prepared the data for the GHSA, reported miles driven in 2016 and walking up only slight percentage points, while other data showed use of wireless devices and texting exploding.

“It’s the only factor that seems to indicate a dramatic change in how people behave,” says Retting.

“This latest data shows that the U.S. isn’t meeting the mark on keeping pedestrians safe on our roadways,” said Jonathan Adkins, the association’s executive director, “Every one of these lives represents a loved one not coming home tonight, which is absolutely unacceptable.”

There was an increase in overall traffic fatalities of 6% in 2016, also the highest in almost a decade. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates over 40,200 traffic deaths in 2016, with the last time the number reaching over 40,000 reported in 2007.

From 2010 to 2015, pedestrian deaths were up 25% while traffic deaths were up 6% for the same period.

“We cannot look at distracted driving solely as an in-vehicle issue,” said Kelly Nantel, spokeswoman for the NSC. “That discounts the impact distraction could have on pedestrians.” On the other hand, she stated that just as drivers need to stay alert, pedestrians need to as well.

Alcohol is another factor that seems to be contributing to the increase in pedestrian deaths. Data shows 34% of pedestrians were found to be intoxicated at the time of the accident while less than half that number of drivers were found to be intoxicated at the time of a fatal crash.

Pedestrians “are our most vulnerable road users.” People are “more easily distracted than when we didn’t have so many easily accessible, essentially, computers in our palms,” said the NTSB.

The latest numbers have caught the attention of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The agency is currently investigating causes and possible solutions to the problem.