Report documents preventable pedestrian deaths, ranks most dangerous metro areasMay 24, 2011
By Transportation for America
More than 47,700 pedestrians were killed in the U.S. between 2000 and 2009, and the majority of those deaths were preventable, according to a new report released today by Transportation for America. The report, “Dangerous by Design 2011: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths,” shows how roadway designs promoted by federal investment endanger people on foot.
Dangerous by Design also ranks America’s major metropolitan areas using a Pedestrian Danger Index that uses 10 years of data to assess how safe pedestrians are while walking. The top four – Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa – are all in Florida. Other dangerous cities in the top 10 include: San Bernardino, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Memphis, Tennessee; Phoenix, Arizona; Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston, Texas.
The report presents data on pedestrian fatalities and injuries in every U.S. county. And for the first time, this year’s report includes an online, interactive map showing the locations where pedestrian fatalities have occurred.
More than 688,000 pedestrians were injured over the decade, a number equivalent to a pedestrian being struck by a car or truck every 7 minutes. The report finds that while only 1.5 percent of federal funds are allocated towards upgrading dangerous roads, 12 percent of all nationwide fatalities are pedestrians. Of these fatalities, nearly 4,000 were children 15 years and younger, making pedestrian injury the third leading cause of death by unintentional injury for that age group.
The majority of deaths occur on roadways that encourage speeding but do not provide the sidewalks, crosswalks, signals and other protections for people who are walking, the report finds. Most of these roads were built using federal transportation funds. The report comes as the federal transportation bill is being debated in Washington DC and calls to eliminate programs that can promote safer, more walkable streets have increased.
“Some in Congress have questioned the federal interest in keeping pedestrians safe, believing it to be a strictly local issue,” said James Corless, director of Transportation for America. “But two-thirds of all pedestrian fatalities in the last 10 years occurred on federal-aid roadways.”
Dangerous by Design describes how communities across the country are beginning to reverse the legacy of 50 years of anti-pedestrian policies by retrofitting or building new roads as “complete streets” that are safer for walking and bicycling, as well as motorists.
“Dangerous by Design shines a spotlight on the dangers pedestrians – especially older Americans – face when they walk in unsafe crosswalks and along roads with little protection from fast-moving traffic,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President. “With a rapidly aging population, AARP is renewing its call on Congress to pass ‘Complete Streets’ legislation, which will help ensure that our streets and sidewalks are safe for all Americans regardless of age or ability.”
Hispanics suffered an average pedestrian death rate 62 percent higher than that for non-Hispanic whites. Similarly, the average pedestrian death rate for African-Americans was 73 percent higher than for non-Hispanic whites. In addition, older Americans are over twice as likely to be killed while walking as those under 65 years of age.
Dangerous by Design outlines a roadmap for the future by which Congress can tackle the problems created by poorly designed transportation systems and create safer, more efficient cities for drivers and pedestrians alike. Of particular emphasis is developing transportation systems that take into account pedestrians and bicyclists, instead of viewing them as impediments to traffic.
“Investing to make our roads safer for pedestrians is not a frill, but an urgent matter of life and death in too many of our communities,” said Corless. “Federal programs that caused the dangerous roads to be built now must be reformed to help communities make them safer.”
T4 recommendations for the next transportation bill to create safer streets include provisions to:
- Retain dedicated federal funding for pedestrians and bicyclists;
- Create complete networks of sidewalks, bicycle paths, and trails so that residents can travel safely throughout an area;
- Require federal, state, and local governments to set safety standards they must meet for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and motorists; and
- Hold states accountable for creating communities that are safe for walking.