2005 and 2014, a total of 46,149 people were struck and killed by cars
while walking in the United States. In 2014, the most recent year for
which data are available, 4,884 people were killed by a car while
walking—105 people more than in 2013. On average, 13 people were struck
and killed by a car while walking every day in 2014. And between 2005
and 2014, Americans were 7.2 times more likely to die as a pedestrian
than from a natural disaster. Each one of those people was a child,
parent, friend, classmate, or neighbor. And these tragedies are
occurring across the country—in small towns and big cities, in
communities on the coast and in the heartland.
Dangerous by Design 2016 takes
a closer look at this alarming epidemic. The fourth edition once again
examines the metro areas that are the most dangerous for people walking.
It also includes a racial and income-based examination of the people
who are most at risk, and for the first time also ranks states by their
danger to pedestrians.
This year’s report ranks the 104 largest metro areas in the country, as well as every state by a “Pedestrian Danger Index,” orPDI.PDIis a calculation of the share of local commuters who walk to work and the most recent data on pedestrian deaths.
Based onPDI, the 20 most dangerous metro areas for walking in the United States are:
Who are the victims of these collisions? People of color and older adults are overrepresented among pedestrian deaths. Non-white
individuals account for 34.9 percent of the national population but
make up 46.1 percent of pedestrian deaths. In some states, this
disparity is even starker. In North Dakota, for example, Native
Americans make up just five percent of the population but account for
almost 38 percent of pedestrian deaths. Older adults are similarly at
higher risk: individuals 65 years or older are 50 percent more likely
than younger individuals to be struck and killed by a car while walking.
Even after controlling for the relative amounts of walking among these
populations, risks continue to be higher for some people of color and
older adults—indicating that these people most likely face
disproportionately unsafe conditions for walking.
In addition, PDIis correlated with median household income and rates of uninsured individuals. Low-income metro areas are predictably more dangerous than higher-income ones: as median household incomes drop,PDIrises. Similar trends bear out with rates of uninsured individuals: as rates of uninsured individuals rise, so doPDIs, meaning that the people who can least afford to be injured often live in the most dangerous places.
The way we design streets is a factor in these fatal collisions. Many
of these deaths occur on streets with fast-moving cars and poor
pedestrian infrastructure. People walk along these roads despite the
clear safety risks—a sign that streets are not adequately serving
everyone in the community.
involved in the street design process—from federal policymakers to
local elected leaders to transportation engineers—must take action to
end pedestrian deaths. So long as streets are built to prioritize high
speeds at the cost of pedestrian safety, this will remain a problem. And
as the nation’s population grows older on the whole, and as we become
more diverse both racially and economically, the need for these safety
improvements will only become more dire in years to come.
Policy makers at the local, state, and national level can and must take
action to protect people from being struck and killed by cars while
walking. Dangerous by Design 2016 outlines where to focus these actions and the first steps to making it happen.