The National Complete Streets Coalition, a branch of Smart Growth America, released a study in May 2014 that compared pedestrian deaths, including total deaths, annual deaths per 100,000 residents and the percentage of pedestrian commuters that have the most dangerous metro areas to walk.
They call it the Pedestrian Danger Index, which they calculate by looking at five years of available data on pedestrian fatalities and the number of locals who commute to work on foot every day. And there's bad news for us here in Florida. We took the top four slots.
Top 10 Deadliest Cities for Pedestrians
1. Orlando, Florida
2. Tampa, Florida
3. Jacksonville, Florida
4. Miami, Florida
5. Memphis, Tennessee
6. Birmingham, Alabama
7. Houston, Texas
8. Atlanta, Georgia
9. Phoenix, Arizona
10. Charlotte, North Carolina
Unfortunately, the elderly are at the highest risk. While they account for only 12.6 percent of the U.S. population, they're 21 percent of the pedestrian fatalities. If you think pedestrian accidents are uncommon, think again. About 16 times more Americans die as the result of a pedestrian accident than die in natural disasters. According to the report, that means someone's hit by a car every eight minutes.
Keeping Yourself Safe
Whether or not you live in one of these potentially dangerous metro areas, it pays to know how to keep yourself safe.
- Stay alert — It isn't just drivers who are susceptible to distractions. When you're walking, even if you're walking on what you think is a lightly traveled road, keep your head up. Look both ways before crossing the street, turn your phone off (if you need to send a text, stop somewhere safe) and if you like to do things like listen to music, that's fine, but keep only one ear bud in and keep the volume down low enough that you can hear oncoming traffic.
- Follow the law — Don't assume that if you get hit by a car, they're automatically at fault. If you're jaywalking or in any other way breaking the law, you may be at fault, even if you're seriously injured or killed. And if you don't live in a metro area, stay out of the street. Streets that are infrequently traveled can also be dangerous, especially since drivers may have the same idea you do and speed around a curve or out of their driveways without really looking.
- Try to stay on sidewalks — Sidewalks are not everywhere, but where they do have them, use them. Remember, this is only for pedestrians. A biker is supposed to follow traffic laws, so they should never use the sidewalk unless they're walking their bikes. If you do have to walk in the street, walk on the side near the curb facing traffic.
- Stay sober — That's right. It may seem safer to walk home from the bar than drive (and it is), but take a cab instead. According to the CDC, in 2010, 33 percent of all pedestrians killed in traffic accidents where legally intoxicated.
- Educate your kids and keep an eye on them — The CDC also says that nearly one in four pedestrian deaths are children 14 years old and younger.
- Know the traffic habits — if there's an intersection where you know people have a tendency to fail to yield right of way to pedestrians (especially if a driver's visibility may be limited), be on your guard when using them.
No matter how careful you are, you may still get hit by a car. If you or someone you love was injured or killed by a vehicle while walking, contact us at Draper Law Office at 866.767.4711 for a free, no-obligation consultation. Even if you were violating the law, you may not be entirely responsible.