U.S. Roads Are Becoming More Deadly for Pedestrians

July 13, 2022

According to a new report released yesterday by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition, the streets in the U.S. are more deadly for pedestrians.

The report found that in 2020, more than 6,500 people were killed while walking. that is a 4.5% increase from the year prior, in 2019.

It seems to be more deadly for Black, Native, and low-income pedestrians in this country. The report found that Black pedestrians are twice as likely to be struck and killed while walking than white pedestrians, while Native people are more than three times as likely to be fatally hit.

The research also found that low-income neighborhoods are more likely to experience pedestrian deaths. These neighborhoods may have the deadly combination of having fewer sidewalks and parks, as well as more arterial roads that lead to higher speeds and more traffic that leads to more pedestrian fatalities.

According to the report, the Tampa-Clearwater metro area in Florida is one of the deadliest regions in the country.

Whit Blanton, the executive director of the Pinellas County-based land use and transportation planning agency Forward Pinellas, says the prioritization of cars as the main form of transportation has made some places unwalkable.

He explained in an interview that many regions like Pinellas County were developed with the automobile as the focus, and though plenty of downtown areas are walkable.

"You're walking next to 45-50 mile an hour traffic that's lined with commercial retail shops, a lot of driveways and parking out front," Blanton said. "When you walk, you have to walk through a parking lot to get to the front door of whatever business or destination you have in mind. You have to cross some big wide roads and drivers are frequently allowed to turn right on red."

Research from the report found that highways across the country were oftentimes built through or close to Black, brown, or low-income neighborhoods, making them harder to live in, destroying businesses, displacing residents, all the while making them unfriendly to pedestrians.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) estimates that the number of pedestrian deaths is only going to increase.

The agency estimates that 7,485 people were struck and killed while walking in 2021, which would be the highest number in 40 years.

The top 10 deadliest states, starting with the deadliest, include: New Mexico, Florida, South Carolina, Arizona, Delaware, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, as well as Georgia and California.

The top 10 deadliest metro areas for pedestrians, starting with the deadliest, include: Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Memphis, Tennessee; Tampa-Clearwater, Florida; Charleston-North Charleston, South Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Bakersfield, California; Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida; Stockton, California; and Fresno, California.


Source: Smart Growth America/National Complete Streets Coalition

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