By on January 26, 2019

Late last year, we delivered some upbeat news — U.S. motorist deaths fell 1.8 percent in 2017, after two years of steep increases. This decline in fatalities came in a year where the number of miles travelled by American drivers actually increased 1.2 percent. It’s progress, albeit meager, but it’s still nowhere near the ideal of zero fatalities.

But what about people killed in vehicle collisions who weren’t riding in a car? Thousands of pedestrians and cyclists die each year at the hands of motorists, and some 5,977 met their end this way in 2017. What can we learn from the available data?

Smart Growth America’s just-released Dangerous by Design report looks at the decade leading up to the last year of complete data — 2017. Over that period, we see a steady climb in pedestrian fatalities (2017 was the first year since 2009 in which fatalities actually dropped, though only by a small amount — just 103 fewer deaths).

Averaged out, pedestrian fatalities rose 35 percent over the past decade. Like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report published last year, there’s many elements at work here. Many point to increased dangers born of an evolving populace.

Since 2008, the total number of miles travelled by vehicle increased 8.1 percent in the U.S., while the number of trips accomplished through foot power rose less than 1 percent. Over the same time period, deaths of vehicle occupants fell 6.1 percent due to a variety of factors, including safer automobiles and reduced rates of impaired driving.

In its report, the NHTSA’s data pointed to a hollowing out of rural America and an influx of citizens to major urban centers.

Between 2008 and 2008, total vehicle miles travelled dropped 2.1 percent in rural areas and rose 13.1 percent in urban areas. At the same time, urban traffic-related deaths rose 17.4 percent and rural fatalities sank 18 percent. In this fact, we see a key reason for the upswing in pedestrian deaths. Drivers and urban walkers/cyclists are increasingly on a collision course simply because more exist in close proximity to each other.

Image: wikimedia

Even as vehicles become safer, incorporating recent advances like pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking (not to mention energy-absorbing hoods), rates of distracted driving are set to muscle out impaired driving as the greatest scourge on our roads. Pedestrians, too, have more opportunity to find themselves distracted. We’re boozing less, but replacing the practice with another danger.

With a higher percentage of pedestrian fatalities now occurring in major cities, the death rate among marginalized communities is also on the upswing. The same goes for the elderly. Pedestrians aged 75 or above are twice as likely to die in a vehicle impact as the U.S. average. Unsurprisingly, the lower a person’s income, the more likely they are to be struck by a car.

So, where is the carnage the worst? Think warmth. Cities in the Southern U.S. surpass much larger Northern urban centers in pedestrian danger, based on fatalities and the rate per 100,000 people. Smart Growth America combined these figures to create a Pedestrian Danger Index score. Florida counts for eight of the top 10 worst cities, with Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford at the top.

A heavier mix of retirees and distracted tourists, coupled with year-round warm weather and lackluster transit, combined to give Florida the undesirable title of pedestrian death king. Of the remaining Lower 48, only Bakersfield, California and Jackson, Mississippi managed to crack the top 10. Other Southern or Southwestern cities, including Baton Rouge, Memphis, Birmingham, Greenville, and Albuquerque, populate the list of most-dangerous locales — with the exception of the Motor City itself at number 18.

You’ll need to scroll to number 41 — Indianapolis — in order to see another Northern city on the list. In contrast, Northeastern and Rust Belt cities, with the exception of Youngtown, Ohio, fall well below the national average in terms of pedestrian danger.

To the organization behind the report, one pedestrian death is too many. The group uses the report to advocate for better road design and public policy to mitigate the rise in vehicle-pedestrian collisions.

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107 Comments on “Pedestrian Deaths Skyrocketed Over the Past Decade, But Which Cities Have It Worse?...”


  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Shouldn’t we be deep enough into pedestrian-friendly car production that we should be seeing some sort of return? Did we make all the cars ugly for naught?

    Has anyone allowed a study of the impact that traffic circles and other traffic calming blights have on pedestrian safety? Experience and common sense say that people trying not to run over curbs aren’t looking at pedestrians or cyclists. Shopping centers designed by the same diseased minds that calm traffic certainly have body counts for this reason.

    • 0 avatar

      SUVs, taller crossovers and trucks tend to be less pedestrian friendly and they now constitute about two thirds of all new vehicle sales. Consumers pay thousands more for taller vehicles which get poorer fuel economy and handle less precisely than sedans or station wagons of about the same size classes with similar engines. The makers are very pleased because they make more profits and the fuel economy standards they have to meet are lower than for conventional sedans and station wagons. In Europe where gas costs about $6 per US gallon, there are a lot fewer SUVs and trucks. European consumers are smarter in many ways.
      James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Many pedestrians are suicidal, jumping out in front of traffic without looking.

        Video games like Wack A Pedestrian don’t help either.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Look at the picture. I live in urban San Diego, about two miles from the airport. I’ve tried walking home after 4 hours in a plane, and for about a third of the distance I was doing what that woman in the picture is doing – walking on the road.

          Pedestrians aren’t suicidal, many of them are arrogant, insisting they have the right of way. Just drive in Boston, near a college. The students go out of their way to slow down traffic at mid-block crosswalks.

          But that’s a separate problem. Cars aren’t allowed on sidewalks so pedestrians should be safe there. Cities need to plan for pedestrian traffic circulation as well as motorized and bicycle traffic.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Lorenzo, I’m quite familiar with the Lindbergh Field area, Harbor Drive and Pacific Coast Highway. My uncle owned a Shell station there during the fifties and sixties, and I spent a lot of time working for him, and in La Jolla where he lived when I stayed and lived with him prior to joining the military.

            Pedestrians are arrogant, indeed, insisting they have the right of way. So they have no one to blame but themselves if they get run over.

            To me self-preservation should be first and foremost and I try not to put myself in situations where my life could be jeopardized, like walk on a street while FACING traffic. Pedestrians must assume blame for putting themselves in danger, especially when crossing streets.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            hdc, am I off base assuming you’re rarely a pedestrian? There’s plenty of blame to go around on both sides, so it’s sort of oblivious to assume pedestrians are automatically at fault, and they placed themselves in danger. There’s a three-way stop near my home (so in a residential neighbourhood), on the walk to the subway. My wife rants nearly daily about it not mattering if she waits for all traffic to clear before crossing, someone will come tearing up while she’s halfway through the intersection and try blow through, nearly running her over (I’ve seen it happen). She’s exactly zero percent at fault there, and yet still in danger.

          • 0 avatar
            bbbuzzy

            Right of way is something most people misunderstand. You don’t have it, it must be given. Motorists MUST yield the right of way to a pedestrian but pedestrians should not walk in roadways.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Maymar, I’m rarely a pedestrian these days. But I remember the times long ago that I was, and I made sure to look out for cars so I would not be run over.

            I never trust any motorist to give ME the right of way, even when I’m driving.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            So, never ever cross the road, lest a motorist who’s not currently at the intersection *might* pull up, because we wouldn’t want to inconvenience them and make them wait 5 seconds? If that’s the case, I don’t think we can call pedestrians the entitled ones. I’m all for vigilance and paying attention, and recognizing that motorists might not see you or ignore your right of way, but at that point, motorists are also part of the problem, and pedestrians are expected to compensate for them.

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            This! I bike to work a lot and unfortunately there is practically zero planning for bicycles so I use sidewalks by default since it drastically reduces my odds of becoming a squishy hood ornament.

            The issue that occurs is that your essentially reduced to being a pedestrian and expected to move at pedestrian speed.

            It also doesnt help we dont have a lot of foot traffic either. Motorist routinely block crosswalks in my AO (police included) and rarely take into account foot or bike traffic.

            I doubt it will change so you just have to be careful and unfortunatley defer to drivers that are clearly in the wrong.

            Ask me why cyclist and pedestrians get squashed so much and I would say they’ve become too comfortable (or arrogant as you prefer) to the point of inattention.

            If you want to live to a ripe old age biking or walking just accept the world at best see’s you as a nuisance and act accordingly.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Not being able to afford what they want does not make European consumers smarter, only de facto poorer. Your reasoning is right up there with speech codes. It’s like you think people are smarter when they aren’t allowed to say anything you disagree with.

        • 0 avatar

          With respect, I think Europeans are smarter to prefer vehicles that get better fuel economy for lower operating costs, cost less to buy, have lower centers of gravity which makes them handle better & be safer for the occupants in many emergency situations, and are safer for pedestrians around them if any accidents happen. Having driven in 27 world countries during my 58 years and over 1.1 million miles of driving, I perhaps have a wider view than many Americans.
          James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Maybe Americans don’t take ” a wider view.” Perhaps by choice.

            Maybe Americans have different priorities that matter to them.

            Don’t we in America have among our God-given rights the right of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness? Whatever that may be for each individual.

            And our Canadian cousins share many of those same views. Many of them drive American brand cars and trucks.

            So why would any self-respecting American or Canadian want to Europeanize North America?

            It would be simpler for those individuals to seek their nirvana in Europe.

          • 0 avatar

            For highdesertcat:
            ABSOLUTELY we have the right to buy more expensive vehicles that handle less well than sedans & station wagons in equivalent vehicle classes, get lower fuel economy, cost substantially more, and present more dangers to pedestrians when accidents happen.

            I just think it is an unwise choice for the vast majority of Americans and Canadians that rarely if ever use the additional capacity and load levels those vehicles provide. For those that use the capacity like people on a farm, sometimes need the advantages for a business use, regularly carry more than 5 people, etc. – the choices are logical. But a person or couple using a full sized SUV for normal trips to the grocery store or out to the theater is unwise in my view. It certainly raises risks for pedestrians.
            James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            “ABSOLUTELY we have the right to buy more expensive vehicles that handle less well than sedans & station wagons in equivalent vehicle classes, get lower fuel economy, cost substantially more, and present more dangers to pedestrians when accidents happen.”

            Marvelous satiric fusillade. But you’re ignoring the self-defense nature of the C/SUV revolution.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            jwconsult, Unwise choice or not, pickup trucks, SUVs and CUVs are the best-selling vehicles in the US. Get hit by one of those and a person’s chance of surviving are diminished.

            Frankly, with more people working in America than ever before, it seems reasonable to assume that their needs for mobility and even recreational transportation will result in even more vehicles being on the roads in the US in the years ahead.

            Roger Penske said on CNBC while at NAIAS that of the 270 million roadworthy cars currently registered in the US, 1% were PEV and 3% were PHEV.

            Not even a SAAR rounding error.

            I’ll go on the record with my view of fewer vehicles being sold in the near future, but most of them will be 4dr pickup trucks of all five brands, with Ford leading the pack.

            Coupled with the relatively low cost of gasoline and diesel fuel, it may result in the sale of more larger, heavier, and thirstier vehicles being purchased NEW. The bulk being trucks, IMO.

            At least until fuel reaches the magic $5/gal again, if ever.

            There are a number of analysts and auto industry forecasters who have gone on the record to warn the industry of a reduction in future sales of vehicles.

            In turn, this has caused OEMs to cut or reduce certain vehicle production, resulting in a more narrow choice of vehicle availability as we go into the MY2020 production cycle.

            OEMs make what people buy. OEMs discard what people don’t buy. IMO that trend is away from smaller, lighter, more economical vehicles (in America).

            When I still had kids and grand kids living at home, I preferred them to drive my larger, heavier vehicles, for protection in case of collision.

            Today, my youngest grand daughter of driving age, bought herself a 2019 Toyota 4Runner after the 2008 Highlander we had given her to drive became not economically feasible to fix/maintain.

            When our twin-grandkids, now age 14, get their license, I am certain that their parents will choose a larger, heavier vehicle for their protection.

            Such are the realities, and I live in the wide-open spaces of The Great Southwest. Yet I see those same principles applied by people in the larger, urban areas.

            It’s driven by what they can afford to sink into transportation, all things considered.

          • 0 avatar

            For jatz about satire:
            The self defense aspect may be true in some cases. In accidents trains win over semis, semis win over cars & light trucks, SUVs & light trucks win over compact & subcompact cars. Carefully chosen passenger cars gain back part of the weight disadvantage in accidents with superior accident-avoidance capabilities. There are good reasons many vehicle models sold in Europe and particularly those made in Germany have better handling characteristics – many Europeans demand those features.
            James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

          • 0 avatar

            For highdesertcat
            Your analysis of what people buy and what OEMs make is quite accurate. Add in the fact that trucks and SUVs have lower mpg requirements than conventional passenger cars – making it easier for OEMs to meet the rules using identical powertrains.
            James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            With four brothers in the new-car bid’ness in four states, I was drafted to do their forecast analysis for them from 1985-2015.

          • 0 avatar
            volks92

            But SUV sales are increasing in Europe as well, in 3 to 4 years their passenger car market share will likely drop below 50%.

            Looking at the worldwide sales mix data it seems to be a worldwide shift. Europe, Latin America, and Asia are just a little late to the game as they didn’t have as many smaller or affordable options as they do now.

          • 0 avatar
            Carrera

            Europeans don’t have much of a choice JCW. I don’t buy the idea that all Europeans love small penalty boxes..well, not the Europeans I know, and being born in Europe, I have a lot of family and friends. Their dream car is a convertible Mustang GT or a big SUV like a Ford Expedition. But, since those cars are totally impractical for most European cities either due to size or fuel consumption, they resign to driving Ford Fiestas, Kia Ceed, Hyndai Accents, VW Lupos and Polos and other small-ish vehicles. I do have friends who have “gargantuan” vehicles such as CR-Vs and Rav-4s but they use them mostly as vacations vehicles. As soon as they come visit USA, they rent an Explorer or a convertible Mustang/Camaro. It is the unattainable, forbidden fruit.

          • 0 avatar

            For Carrera
            My last 3 cars have been my current VW GTI, Ford Fiesta ST, and a Mazda 3 hatchback – all with manual transmissions. I don’t consider any of them to be “small penalty boxes”. My wife is on her third BMW 3-series. Neither of us has every wanted a Mustang, Expedition, Explorer, Cadillac CTS, etc., etc. Note she is 79 and I am 74. On our last European trip we rented a Mercedes A class hatchback with a 6 speed and it was an excellent rental car – though it would have been better with an optional engine with a bit more power.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            HDC,

            If you don’t mind, what was the mileage on that Highlander when you finally got rid of it? Just curious. I have a 2009 Highlander with 160k and it is running fine, although it does require oil between scheduled changes.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            thelaine, I don’t remember. It was more than 185K. That I do know. I even called my grand daughter in El Paso, TX, to see if she remembered, and she didn’t.

            If you have access to the national parts data base you could look up the recycle yard on North Dyer in El Paso, TX, and see if they still have the record of our Japan-built 2008 Highlander Limited AWD.

            The guy that took the Highlander in told us there was an enormous demand for parts and that they would have no problem parting it out.

            Since the body was sound, and the wheels were light-alloys, I’m pretty sure those were the first parts to go to body shops to repair other Highlanders.

            Our Highlander was beginning to leak coolant, from the radiator and from the waterpump. There was light blue smoke coming from the exhaust and it needed a quart of 5W-30 Hi-Mileage Castrol every 2500 miles or so.

            The AC quit for the third time and that what was put it in the junkyard. I wasn’t going to spend another $700 to fix what was wrong with the AC (probably hi/lo pressure valves and/or condenser was leaking.)

            The guy gave my grand daughter $500 for it because she drove it in and he needed the doors, hood, tailgate, trailer hitch, alloy wheels, other parts of a Japan-built Highlander. He got it.

            It served us all very well.

            Now she drives a 2019 4Runner SRT5 4×4. Loves it! Paid for it herself out of the inheritance her great grandfather (my wife’s dad) left her.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            HDC,

            Much obliged. Haven’t had any issues up to now, but that puppy takes four(!) quarts between 5k oil changes. I do use the high-mileage oil. My mechanic says don’t worry about it. Wait for the blue smoke and then drive it to the wrecking yard. Sounds like a plan.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            thelaine, I should add that “the light blue smoke coming from the exhaust pipe” is what posed the real problem in El Paso, TX, because vehicles need to be smogged every year if they are ten years old or older.

            That Highlander would NEVER has passed the smog test. This would have resulted in citations, decertification, loss of insurance, all way to impounding by TX DMV.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        European consumers are poorer in many ways, even more over-taxed and over-regulated in many ways and live in tighter quarters in many ways.

        They are not smarter, they are buying what they can afford and for which they have space. Americans, generally, have more money, cheaper fuel, and more space to drive and park. They also drive what they can afford.

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          This. Ordinary Euros are and have always been less privileged and consequently vociferous virtue-signalers.

          • 0 avatar
            vehic1

            How dare they signal any of their beliefs? That is only allowed here, by wearing certain red ballcaps.

          • 0 avatar
            ttacgreg

            You guys are perhaps forgetting that European cities were laid out before cars existed, and lots of villages, towns and cities are a very tight fit for even small vehicles, not to mention lots of very narrow roads. So the issue is also simple physical dimensions as much as desires and wants.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            “European cities were laid out before cars existed”

            The new tenants are finding this both comfortable and tactically conducive.

        • 0 avatar
          Carrera

          For JCW…I was talking about people in Europe. Since I assume you live in USA, you can drive whatever size you like. VW Golf and Mazda 3 isn’t a penalty box by any standards even in USA. In Europe, they are considered full blown family vehicles. For the record, I drive a 6 speed manual Corolla S, but that’s the samllest I would comfortably go. The wife drives a Pilot and that’s the smallest she would go. I just had some friends from Europe over and they though she was crazy for driving such a big vehicle. They also assumed that we live in a farm area since there are so many pick-up trucks around.

      • 0 avatar
        civicjohn

        @jwconsult,

        I’d lay much of the increase of deaths due to smartphones. When walking down the sidewalk in NYC, London, even Nashville, I have to continuously look out for others who have their eyes glued to their screens and their headsets on.

        Because we all know it is much more important to respond to the latest message, tweet, or Facebook comment than it is to pay attention to your surroundings.

        • 0 avatar
          vehic1

          civicjohn: +1. Just as drivers have more accidents when the absent-mindedly multi-task with their smartphones, pedestrians enter crosswalks while glued to their phones – trusting that all drivers will stop, and they won’t cast a glance around to see if that is actually the case. They walk into fountains, fall off cliffs, etc., too.

      • 0 avatar
        Zipster

        JW:

        Recently, I was walking on a sidewalk when I became aware of a Lexus CUV starting to make a left turn into a parking lot. Fortunately I was able to run out of it’s way. I believe that if the middle aged woman driver had been driving a car with more direct sight lines she would have seen me before she drove past me.

        I share all of your sentiments about SUVs and CUVs. For what its worth, if the American motor vehicle fleet reflected the European, we would be discharging more than half a billion tons LESS carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a matter which totally escapes the consciences of most Americans. Now that most people are aware of climate change, they will believe that a four-wheel drive vehicle will help them overcome the effects of climate change.

        • 0 avatar

          For Zipster
          Agreed on your points. Plus like some previous swings in buyers’ tastes when fuel prices changed sharply, a fleet migrating more to the European model would likely tolerate higher fuel prices that we desperately need to fix our roads. The federal fuel taxes have not been increased for 25 years and I think we have had a teensie bit of inflation since then. Higher fuel prices would perhaps make the mix of smaller vehicles more permanent. I would also note that our cars in Michigan are always 2WD by choice, plus sets of Bridgestone Blizzaks (or similar) on wheels to make the seasonal swaps easy and cheap. The only extra cost is the wheels because only one tire set is wearing at a time. Our method also yields better handling cars on dry roads and less complicated ones for long run service costs.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          How much additional carbon dioxide is the result of mass migration into first world countries with large carbon footprints from third world countries with tiny ones? Globalists need to pick lies about their agenda that aren’t in direct contradiction with one another. There are capable people who aren’t stupid enough to believe them.

          • 0 avatar
            Zipster

            TAtlas:

            Perhaps you have not been informed that because of climate change, many people will be and already are, being forced to leave their home countries. It is never too late to educate oneself.

          • 0 avatar
            Zipster

            TAtlas:

            Perhaps you have not been informed that because of climate change, many people will be and already are, being forced to leave their home countries. It is never too late to educate oneself.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            “because of climate change, many people will be and already are, being forced to leave their home countries”

            We don’t care. They’ll just overbreed and destroy whatever tenable environment upon which they inflict themselves.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            jatz, they’re currently forming caravans in Guatemala and Honduras to come to the US by way of Old Mexico.

            Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, prepare yourselves!

          • 0 avatar
            Prove your humanity: 9 + 8 =

            Oh, no! Scary brown people! We’re being INVADED by poor people who want menial, minimum-wage jobs washing dishes or harvesting vegetables! Quick! Put on your Make America Racist Again baseball hat*!

            *Made in China

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            “TAtlas:

            Perhaps you have not been informed that because of climate change, many people will be and already are, being forced to leave their home countries. It is never too late to educate oneself”

            1. There is zero evidence of this. The migrants are being moved by globalist NGOs while claiming danger based on the political instability created when Obama backed every Arab Spring revolution outside of Iran.

            2. Were there any truth to your rather feeble failure of a reason, then the last rational response to it would be multiplying the carbon footprints of the victims of climate change. Your puppeteers know they’re destroying civilization based on lies. Do you?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            We all should agree to take “climate change” seriously since it has been going on for 4.5 BILLION years.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Industrialization killed the dinosaurs.

      • 0 avatar
        285exp

        Then let’s just jack up the taxes on gas to European levels and we’ll solve the problem of people buying those unnecessary gas guzzling behemoths and reduce all that unnecessary driving that the proletariat indulge themselves in, shall we?

        I look forward to our brave politicians implementing this very soon.

        • 0 avatar

          For 285EXP
          There have been many times that gas was priced low – including right now. We could add $0.50 a gallon with little current pain and it would tend to discourage sales of low mpg vehicles as the prices go back in normal price swings. I believe the voters would accept the change IF AND ONLY IF the $0.50 were legally 100% dedicated to the roads without $0.01 allowed to be spent on transit, bike lanes, beautification projects on highways, transportation museums, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            285exp

            Raising the gas tax only $0.50 a gallon would have a negligible impact on sales of F-150s and Tahoes or on the wasteful driving habits of the vast majority of motorists. This morning when I filled up the price of gas was $0.52 a gallon less than this time last year, and last year prices had no effect on how I drove or make me want to buy an EV. If people are serious about making a real change in what folks are driving, reduce fuel consumption in the existing fleet, and push the adoption of EVs, you’re going to have to explain it to them properly: make the price of fuel prohibitively expensive. It’s for their own good.

        • 0 avatar
          Bill Zardus

          There is no reason to conserve fuel.

          By the time our grandchildren are old enough to drive and
          realize we used up all the oil reserves, we will be dead anyway.

          WRZ

        • 0 avatar
          Bill Zardus

          I would guess President Blowhard is much more likely to lower the gas tax then he is to raise it.

          Our “stable genius” wont start worrying about global warming until his Mar Lago estate is underwater 12 months a year or unti Putin tells him to.

          He thinks record cold weather in any city where he happens to be, is proof that global warming is a myth. He just tweeted about this yesterday
          We are stuck with a moron in the white house and there is nothing we can do about it.

  • avatar
    mike978

    If cyclists as a group learnt to share the road better (i.e. not riding two abreast to chat) then that would help.
    Faults on all sides.

  • avatar

    There are many elements. 1) Many cities have successfully encouraged more walking and cycling and those increases necessarily produce more exposures to potential accidents. 2) Many cities including ones in Florida refuse to set the safest 85th percentile speed limits which tend to produce the fewest accidents – because under posted limits facilitate lucrative speed traps. 3) Florida actually prohibits cities from setting the safest length yellow intervals for the actual approach speeds of most drivers on the traffic lights for minimum violations, because at intersections with the for-profit red light cameras operating the state would get drastically fewer $83 sales commissions on each $158 ticket. 4) Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows over 60% of pedestrian fatalities include a contributing factor by the pedestrians which raised their risks of becoming fatalities.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      Florida, in particular Central Florida where I live, experiences a lot of pedestrian accidents and deaths due to visiting tourists from all over the world. Generally speaking, due to unbearable heat, Florida is not big into having sidewalks and lots of pedestrian areas. A lot of tourists assume that if they just jump in front of a car, the driver will allow them to cross. The tourists also assume the speed limit in town is like back home in Canada, Chile, Germany, etc, etc 25-30 mph. They don’t realize how fast a car closes in when speed limit is 45 mph but most drive 55-60 anyway.
      I lived in Canada for a while and it took me about 1 year to get used to suicidal pedestrians. Even if they cross at the designated areas, they just press the button and assume cars, regardless of speed, will slam on their brakes. They would not wait for the car to pass, they just jump in front. Most local drivers knew that but I used the abs quite a lot until I learned. Not a big deal since speed was 30 mph anyway. In Orlando, a total different story.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Distracted walking, a huge problem. I live near UCLA in Los Angeles. Kids with their eyes glued to cell phones, wandering across wide streets, NOT at the corners. Pedestrians wearing black running across 5 lane streets before dawn!!! The proliferation of these darned electric scooters, which are supposed to be used by riders 18 years of age and older, (while wearing helmets) are now used by preteens who are both short in stature and short on any sort of driving experience. I think the problem lies 10:1 with the pedestrian/bicyclist/scooter rider more than auto drivers. Tragedies waiting to play out.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    JCW nailed it.

    And in a prett concise manner.

    My small suburban city is going down the same road. We’ve already had 2 pedestrians hit.

    The law may give pedestrians the right of way but God (laws of physics) has given the more massive object the right of way.

  • avatar
    Bill Zardus

    When they teach defensive driving classes they should also dedicate some time to “defensive walking” because too many people don’t have common sense. It surprises me how many pedestrians walk in front of cars that are waiting (& looking in the opposite direction) to enter traffic, instead of taking 5 or 6 extra steps to walk behind them. I never intentionally walk in front of cars, even if they appear to be waving at me to do that.

    It would also help if people would stop staring at their cell phones while crossing streets.

    WRZ

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      I’ll chime in yet again here in TTAC on this. I was taught in elementary school to stop, look both ways, and then cross the street when it is safe to do so. The literal blind trust people have in drivers is basically a death wish. I do not put my tender fragile body on a collision course with multi ton vehicles, and then count on the fallible / inattentive / distracted / intoxicated drivers of said vehicles to not splatter me. It is risky enough to my mind when a pedestrian’s eyes can be seen when I approach in my car, as in they are looking before they step out, and they then proceed to force me to slow down or even brake hard to avoid hitting them, but it really amazes me when said pedestrian never even looks, they just obliviously walk out into the traffic path.
      The video of that self driving Volvo that killed a pedestrian was case in point. One pedestrian, one car on the road, in the dead of night. Said pedestrian for whatever reason or lack there of, put themselves on a collision course with that one approaching car . . . . .
      I think I am correct in saying that over the 50 years I have been driving, pedestrians have gotten stupider, less aware, more risk taking, and in some cases more aggressive.

      • 0 avatar

        For ttacgreg
        There is rarely just one cause of a traffic safety problem or just one remedy to fix it. But I believe a part of the problem with rising accidents with pedestrians lies with the most strident pedestrian advocates that believe every vehicle to pedestrian accident is the fault of the vehicle driver. That is NOT true in a high percentage of the accidents, but it gives some pedestrians the feeling they always have the right of way and have very little responsibility to take actions that would keep them much safer. NHTSA data says at least 60% of the pedestrian fatalities involve some contributing action or lack of action that would have reduced the chances of the tragedies. Traffic safety is the joint responsibility of the traffic engineers, officials that fund improvements, vehicle drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
        James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • avatar
    Jagboi

    I see so many people these days with headphones on and staring at their phones just walk out into traffic. They can’t hear traffic and are so distracted they don’t see it. Greater numbers of trucks don’t help.

    I laughed so hard when I saw a person walking down the sidewalk plow into a lightpost simply because they were texting while walking and completely unaware of their surroundings.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    As a visitor to your country many years ago, I was struck by the lack of footpaths. (I think you call them sidewalks) One memorable example was eating in a strip mall opposite an enclosed shopping mall. We expected to just walk across but there was no possibility for a pedestrian to do so without walking along the roads. We drove. America is a very car oriented society but maybe some more consideration should be given to the infrastructure provided for pedestrians as in other countries.

    • 0 avatar

      True in many places where there are multiple commercial areas alongside the roads, without sidewalks connecting them. When roadside areas are developed, developers should be required to include sidewalks to adjacent commercial areas. They should also be required to pay for lighting, signage, and crosswalk markings to any commercial or residential areas across the roads. Similar requirements for the altered traffic patterns are often included in planning permissions for improved shoulders as turn-in and exit lanes, center lanes for left turn-in lanes, and sometimes traffic lights where none were needed before the developments.
      James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      There is an intersection near me where there are the painted pedestrian markings. A few years back an intoxicated Eastern European was killed crossing there by an intoxicated local. I have to wonder if the European being in the painted crosswalk somehow made him feel safe, and if his crossing was a carryover habit from his homeland. The state of Colorado’s response was to install a motion sensor and button operated flashing yellow light system that only perpetuated the game of chicken between cars & pedestrians. A proper stoplight awaits the next death there. BTW the flashing yellow system does displays false alarms, as well as not flashing when pedestrians are crossing.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      The US is a large and diverse place. Your experiences is not representative of the entire country. Where I live, footpaths are common places. In heavily populated downtown areas, there are even footpaths that pass through large buildings and skyways that allow you to cross over roads in comfort and safety.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    The more recently-urbanized or recently-residential-ized the area, the less likely it is to have sidewalks. Still another big reason cities in the northeast do better in this metric – they were built with sidewalks.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      This seems to be what I’ve observed in my travels. The grand old cities in the US – Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis, the old/historic sections of New Orleans, have many wide, dedicated sidewalks, greenbelts, parks, and pedestrian crossings. In places like New York City and Boston, you can transit some difficult intersections going underground through subway and rail stations.

      Cities like Orlando, Nashville, and Houston are much harder to navigate on foot once you get out of downtown cores and/or tourist districts.

      Cities like Seattle have more sidewalks but they are narrow and mixed use of outdoor seating, bike parking (literally taking away sidewalk space for designated bike share parking – it hurts my brain), required tree plantings, etc. take away from the width.

  • avatar
    Gedrven

    Popular discourse on this subject is so narrowly focussed on deaths that I’m actually having trouble finding numbers on accidents (collisions) regardless of outcome.

    A hypothesis:
    1. Collision rate has increased comparably with pedestrian fatalities.
    2. This is due to decreased situational awareness, caused by
    …i. distractions from things that weren’t around 10-20 years ago (smart phones and in-car infotainment),
    …ii. distractions from things that were around, but used to be operable by touch alone, and now require taking one’s eyes off the road (touchscreens and rows of small buttons, instead of knobs and switches), and
    …iii. decreased visibility out of the car, especially when turning a corner.
    3. For pedestrians, collisions are more frequent and no safer than before (what little was gained by grill/hood reshaping has been cancelled out by taller average vehicle height). That’s why we’re seeing increased pedestrian deaths.
    4. For passengers, collisions are more frequent but safer; they roughly cancel out, which is why we’re not seeing much change in passenger deaths. This is due to modern airbags and other improvements in occupant protection, some of which (A-pillar airbags and higher beltlines) are major contributing factors in causing accidents in the first place. Such “safety” features are buying mixed (if net-positive) results for passengers alone, and pedestrians are paying the price.

    While I keep looking, does anyone have any relevant data to support or refute this?

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think (1) is necessarily true for accidents, if evaluated as a rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled to make the numbers comparable across time and between areas. I believe (2) is true for BOTH drivers and pedestrians. Distraction is likely the cause of way more than half the total accidents – but can be hard for the investigating officer to know it was the root cause. Driving AND walking AND cycling demand full attention to the tasks for safety. I bought my current car in part for its conventional radio controls and its infotainment screen that is default off for no distractions. I agree (3) is almost certainly true. Safer cars and roadway safety improvements have made (4) increasingly true for many years. I have not seen any research to discover whether wider A-pillars to increase safety in rollover accidents has a net safety benefit overall versus the much more intrusive blind spots for drivers that can hide pedestrians, cyclists, and sometimes briefly hide even small cars while turning. I owned a classic car for awhile built in 1969 and the windshield view was dramatically better and safer.
      James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        @ JCW
        Couple of points – absolutely agree on simplicity of controls. The Apple approach – here, take this and flail away at it until it does what you want – is a human factors nightmare. We know that from availability of videos showing people falling into fountains or open manholes or blamming into utility and traffic poles while concentrating on their StupidPhones. Still, due to the mass and momentum differences between walking and driving, this is less likely to be life threatening than similarly opaque controls in the center stack of a car. Reminiscent of some classic cars with long rows of identical toggle or rocker switches suggesting Serious Sportiness, just analog not digital in their opacity.
        However, I am in favor of the stronger A-pillars as part of the safety cage, not just for rollover. Boron steel is about 4X stronger than mild steel before it takes a permanent set. Why can’t the C-pillars be as (relatively) svelte and strong as the A pillars? Also, why can’t the greenhouses be an inch taller?

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Millennials and empty-nesters are moving into urban centers and with the former, adopters and tourists and suburbanites who want to suck up their aura. Despite some media account saying that Millennials will move to the suburbs, I’m not so sure.

    Cities with the highest death rates will be the ones that aren’t as walkable and which don’t have good public transit. Unsurprising that warm southern cities are high on the list because they are newer and car dependent, and don’t have the walkability and public transit infrastructure that older rust belt cities do. Older rust belt cities were established during a time when not as many people drove and often worked in their own neighborhoods.

    Low income pedestrians are more likely to die because walkable portions of cities are more expensive, and the ones which lack walkability and public transit are cheaper. So that is going to be where you find your poor people, in areas not as good for walking that require more walking.

    This is all very common sense stuff. I can’t believe someone commissioned a study on this. How much did this cost?

    • 0 avatar

      Common sense can be rare in officialdom. My town has a wide range of non-uniform pedestrian crosswalk markings, signage, lighting, etc. with a local pedestrian ordinance that conflicts with state rules – and it took 10 year plus a study to say we ought to fix many of these issues.
      James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

  • avatar
    jatz

    I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t have liked most of the deceased pedestrians.

    I’m absolutely sure about the bicyclists.

  • avatar
    Null Set

    The rise in pedestrian fatalities has to have something to do with the immense rise in distracted driving, due to cell phones and people fiddling with their navigation and infotainment systems while driving. I see this in LA all the time, largely because I walk almost everywhere. It’s not simply that there are more ways to be distracted, but that people have been so well trained in the expectation that they will be constantly distracted, even in circumstances that in past where this would not have been the case. People now see being distracted from what is going on around them as a natural state of affairs. And so don’t understand how dangerous it can be to themselves and others.

    • 0 avatar

      For Null Set
      We have a grandson who started driving two years ago at age 16. When not driving, he is absolutely addicted to his smart phone. The rule when driving is the phone is off and in the trunk, plus his older car doesn’t have many distracting features. So far, he has only “lost it” once into a snowbank when caught by a very slippery spot.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I would love to see the demographic info of who is being hit.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      and those doing the hitting. There are problems on both sides.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Both who’s getting hit, and doing the hitting. For a small piece of completely unsubstantiated hypothesis, we do have a large aging population beginning to reach the point where they shouldn’t be driving anymore, but who also live in spaces incredibly hostile to anyone who doesn’t drive. Anecdotally, but I feel like many of the local stories on pedestrian accidents in my area (especially in the post-war suburbs) involve older people getting hit, and I’m sure there are plenty of factors at play in those cases.

      In the case of who’s doing the hitting, do we have too many drivers who’ve lost their ability to drive safely, or are we just letting too many people get their license without developing the ability to drive safely?

  • avatar
    micko4472

    The planet is overpopulated now, so an increase in deaths by any cause
    is desirable, imho. Let the flames begin!

    Riding a bicycle on city streets – particularly busy city streets – is
    stupid at best and suicidal at worst. If as a bicyclist you do not
    realize this, you are simply courting an early death.

    Yet another reason to avoid Florida. As if old folks, nose-picking
    tourists, heat, humidity, bugs, snakes and alligators, and Disney were
    not enough reason …

    Out my way, a few pedestrians get killed every year because they try
    to run across a 4 lane high speed semi-expressway at night or when
    they wear dark clothing and cross in the middle of a city street. I
    feel no sympathy for these fools. Not to mention the 2 or 3 who get
    killed by the railroad.

    Yes, I’m a curmudgeonly old fart. Just remember: life is choices, so
    choose well.

  • avatar
    hifi

    As both a pedestrian and an occasional driver in Manhattan, there is absolutely no question in my mind that the cause of this mostly has to do with inattentive pedestrians looking at their phones. If this increase has been over the past decade, that would align with the availability of smart phones. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people walk straight into oncoming traffic, mailboxes, light poles and each other while focusing on their phones. I’ve seen people completely mowed down.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      This. The mayor’s Vision Zero initiative has been very helpful in reducing driver deaths but has had little impact on pedestrian fatalities. Why? Because the initiative is focused solely on driver behavior and intersection design. All the ads are of the “the pedestrian had the right of way, the driver didn’t” type. Nothing is geared toward informing the pedestrians that while they may have the right of way, the graveyard is filled with people that had the right of way. Maybe that is because drivers can be zapped with revenue-enhancing tickets…

      • 0 avatar

        Allowing for-profit ticket camera companies to play any part in traffic enforcement guarantees that the real focus will be profits, not safety. They need to be banned by law in every state to end part of the for-profit focus on enforcement.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        Playing on an old saying. the pedestrian was right, dead right.
        Confession here, I am basing my attitude and opinion on how I conduct myself as a pedestrian.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    It doesn’t help that the legal consequences for crap driving often don’t exist. This is especially true in the more degenerate politically blue areas.

    Check out this NY Post piece:

    https://nypost.com/2019/01/26/careless-drivers-who-kill-are-getting-away-with-murder/

    Prosecutors tend not to change non-drunks in any meaningful way.

    On the plus side, this driver stepped up after hitting others:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2018/11/08/brooklyn-crash-killed-two-toddlers-now-driver-is-dead-an-apparent-suicide/?utm_term=.77230b5fc7ee

    • 0 avatar
      Bill Zardus

      No offense but how the puck am I supposed to take someone calling himself
      ihatetrees seriously ?

      Are you here because you are taking a short break from watching porn ?

      WRZ

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Florida drivers bad? – whats new?

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I’ve been hit by a car in a bullying incident in high school. Fortunately it was a car and I was picked up onto the hood. Had it been a truck, I’d have been smacked down and run over. The proliferation of trucks is definitely a factor here. Where I live many years ago, there was a rash of pedestrian deaths so the police launched a campaign to ticket drivers in relation to crosswalks etc. The result here was a culture where pedestrians now wander across streets without a glance. When I travel to other cities in the world I see how vastly different the culture is regarding cars vs pedestrians. Basically in cities I’ve visited like Istanbul, Houston, Buenos Aires pedestrians are fair game.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    #1 – Smartphones

    distant 2nd, municipalities dimming all street lights to save electricity.

  • avatar
    Bill Zardus

    Dupe

  • avatar
    285exp

    The law of gross tonnage applies.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I believe the reasons for the increased fatalities are wholly due to an epidemic of of distracted driving or walking. I also believe that trying to determine which type of distracted behavior is most detrimental is too difficult; I.E was it the smart phone, infotainment system in the car so on and so forth.

    The smart phone screen obsession should probably be considered an addiction. We all know people who can not put their device down, even at the dinner table, so it is not a stretch to think they can’t put it down while walking or driving.

    2nd: JWConsult, I don’t recall you commenting before but I appreciate your thoughtful comments you have put forth. Welcome.

    • 0 avatar

      87 Morgan – thanks for the compliment.
      I comment on various issues, today to say the Citroen DS was the car most ahead of its time. I have 30 years experience in many parts of the car business. These days I spend a lot of time as a volunteer for the National Motorists Association and its non-profit Foundation – working to get traffic laws and their enforcement based entirely on safety, not on revenue. I have driven in 27 major world countries in my 58 years of licensed driving for something over 1.1 million miles.

  • avatar
    Acd

    I can’t believe the number of people who don’t use crosswalks and just run out into traffic and will stand in the center median waiting to dart across traffic. A lot of people just don’t know how to safely cross a street.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Live in the Seattle area. I’m surprised Seattle isn’t higher up the list.

    Pedestrians are suicidal basically ignoring signals, crossing where there are no legally defined crosswalks, even walking in front of traffic on a don’t walk as the light turns green. Never mind the preferred color of black on black for clothing choice, and the required cellphone in hand.

    The lighting here is worse than other parts of the country – urban “dark” looks/seems darker compared to other cities. The more gentle rain of the wet season doesn’t deter pedestrians or cyclists but turns the urban streets at night into a Hellscape of blinding glare. For about 3 months out of the year the brightest part of the day at 48.3 degrees north is late afternoon sun at best for most of the country. If it is clear the sun is sitting so low to the horizon you’re basically staring into it as you drive sans the dead center of the day.

    Toss in endless construction, road closures, and militant cyclists. My wife is well employed as a doctor at the local trauma center in putting human beings back together.

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