Pedestrian deaths in the US over the past two years have skyrocketed more than 22 percent according to a recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. While the exact reason for the increase isn’t known, one contributor may be the rapidly growing use of smartphones while walking and driving.

The association estimates that there were 5,997 pedestrian fatalities in 2016 compared to just 5,376 a year earlier and 4,910 in 2014.

Richard Retting, a traffic engineer with Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants and author of the report, notes that the increases are unprecedented and quite honestly, shocking. He’s been in the highway safety field for 35 years, he said, adding that they don’t see record increases – let alone consecutive years of record increases.

I think most (me included) would agree with the theory that increased smartphone usage is behind the sharp uptick.

Smartphones have fostered a culture in which people are always focused on where they are not. The issue has prompted several cities to enact measures such as embedding traffic lights into sidewalks and crosswalks to help protect pedestrians from themselves.

Further compounding the matter is the fact that pedestrians aren’t always to blame as distracted drivers have arguably caused even more accidents. It’d be easy to blame the vehicles themselves but with autonomous features being introduced at a rapid clip, cars are only becoming safer to operate.