Pedestrian Deaths on the Rise


This post was written by Gene Maryushenko.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released some new data on pedestrian accident statistics in the United States. In 2010, the number of fatal injuries is up 4 percent from 2009. However, the overall trend over the last ten years indicates a drop in deaths by 13 percent.

California is ranked 14th in fatal injury rate among the states. Puerto Rico, Florida and Delaware take the top 3 positions with rates of 2.71, 2.58 and 2.45 respectively. Coming in last (safest, or least walked) were Nebraska (0.44), Kansas (0.52) and Wyoming (0.53) well below the national average of 1.38.

The new data summarizes some key points:

  • 73% of pedestrian fatalities occurred in urban settings
  • 79% of pedestrian fatalities occurred at non-intersections
  • 88% during normal weather conditions
  • 68% occurred during nighttime
  • 69% killed were males
  • 30% of fatalities occurred between 8pm and 11:59pm
  • 25% between midnight and 4am on weekends
  • 48% of fatalities occurred on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  • 47% of fatalities were associated with alcohol involvement in driver or pedestrian
  • 37% of fatalities occurred when alcohol was involved with pedestrians
  • 62% when alcohol was involved with drivers


The report seems to blame the high volume of fatalities on alcohol yet fails to mention anything regarding current conditions of our roadway’s sidewalks. There has been much discussion about America’s obesity problem in the last decade and the need to increase our daily activity by means of walking. There are plenty of campaigns against obesity, but few if any target the safety of our streets for walking.

A coalition called Transportation for America released their own report to show that sidewalk conditions are subpar with our efforts to encourage people to walk more. It points to the fact that traffic crashes have dropped over 27% in the last decade while pedestrian accident fatalities lag at “only have the rate of motorists, dropping by just 14 percent.” Transportation for America calls for increased federal funding to improve street design aimed at walking.

Personally, I don’t have to look far to see just how dangerous our sidewalks are. It is not uncommon for vehicles pulling out of parking structures to fail to yield to pedestrians in Los Angeles. It is also not uncommon for drivers to run red lights or simply failing to yield at right-hand turns.

Many of the images used in report prepared by Transportation for America (no sidewalks) resemble the streets of Midwest where I have resided in the past. Even in my new hometown of Irvine (a community so meticulously planned for families and outdoor activities,) it can be scary to cross many of the intersections at night where speed limits are often set at 55mph. If a driver failed to yield at an intersection, my chances of survival would be very slim to none.

It’s safe to assume that with growing urbanization pedestrian accidents aren’t going to disappear any time soon. As part of a plan to solve our nation’s problems such as obesity and distracted driving, we should also focus on road design.

Pedestrians involved in an accident often find themselves being blamed by the insurance companies, when in reality another party involved is at fault. After an accident you can’t be expected to know all of your rights, so contact someone who does. Contact Vibhu if you have any question or if you were involved in a pedestrian accident.

[note color=”#DDD”]Do you live in Puerto Rico, Florida or Delaware? Would you say the findings reflect your personal experiences?[/note]

Image courtesy of Flickr (no sidewalk)

Vibhu Talwar is a pedestrian accident lawyer in Los Angeles.

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