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The Worst Places to Be a Pedestrian

Since this project's original publication, we've made changes to the data presented below. The revisions reflected in the content of this page represent the latest, most accurate data made available through the NHTSA's FARS database. This project was intended to encourage safety and responsibility on the road – and we hope that the updated information better serves that purpose.

- The Team at Auto Insurance Center

Walking: You’ve been doing it since before you were out of diapers, so it’s probably safe to say you’ve gotten the hang of it by now. But, pro or not, walking is still dangerous business. Mix it with America’s favorite form of transportation – the car – and it’s even more treacherous. We combed through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) latest fatality data from 2014 to find out which states, neighborhoods, and pedestrian demographics are most at risk. The result? A crash course in pedestrian problems.

Worst States to Be a Pedestrian

New Mexico tops the charts for the most pedestrian fatalities per capita. One contributing factor? Alcohol. The Albuquerque Journal reported that half of all pedestrians who died in traffic accidents from 2008 to 2011 in New Mexico’s most populous county (Bernalillo County) were legally intoxicated at the time. Additionally, 12% of the total crashes involved drunk drivers. Add that to the fact that New Mexico residents rank among the most intense binge drinkers in the country and the University of New Mexico area sidewalks are often in need of repair, and you’ve got a recipe for drunk and disorderly ambulating – and unfortunately, fatality. Minnesota is the safest state for those traveling on foot, which seems to correspond to it having one of the lowest drunk driving death rates in the nation.

Worst Counties to Be a Pedestrian

The city of Los Angeles is home to some of the worst traffic in the country and a population second only to New York City – so it isn’t shocking that the county has over two times as many pedestrian fatalities than the next-highest location. And it hardly seems surprising that urban areas, such as Phoenix, Houston, and San Diego, rank high for fatalities. What was surprising? Six Florida cities made the list, two more than California, and includes the entire South Florida tri-county area of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

Pedestrian Fatalities, by Gender

With Delaware and Montana as the only exceptions, male pedestrians are killed much more often than their female counterparts in virtually every state. Why? It probably has something to do with the fact that men are much more likely to both binge drink and take unnecessary risks than women – a deadly combination when cars are involved. Is it really any wonder that men also pay a higher premium for car insurance?

Average Age of Pedestrian Fatalities

The average age of pedestrians who die in traffic accidents varies widely from state to state. South Dakota has the youngest average age of 32.2 – nearly 15 years younger than the national average of 46.8. Meanwhile, Maine’s average age is 65.9 years old – almost 20 years above the national average.

America’s Deadliest Streets for Pedestrians

We also scouted out America’s deadliest streets. Looking at a map of one of the No. 1 spots, it’s clear how incidents like these continue to happen. Within just a few square blocks of the danger zone, Redondo Beach boasts a park, two schools, a library, and two churches; it’s adjacent to the beach as well – talk about foot traffic. The Philadelphia intersection is also in a school zone and near a roller skating rink and children’s hospital.

Conclusion

While pedestrian deaths are much lower than they were in the late ’70s, when they topped 8,000 a year, there were still nearly 5,000 pedestrian deaths in 2014. Pedestrian deaths are almost always preventable, and it’s up to you as both a driver and walker to follow common-sense rules like not drinking and driving, always looking both ways (and removing headphones) before crossing the street, and resisting the need for speed down those long and tempting country roads.

Sources:

http://www.nhtsa.gov/FARS

http://maps.google.com

http://www.abqjournal.com/452015/news/drinking-imperils-pedestrians.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/11/25/the-state-of-binge-drinking-in-the-united-states-in-seven-simple-charts/

http://www.koat.com/news/professor-creates-website-to-report-bad-sidewalks/35772650

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/05/05141.html

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/30/30003.html

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/roadway-and-environment/fatalityfacts/roadway-and-environment

http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/men-take-idiotic-risks-study-confirms-141211.htm

http://www.autoinsurancecenter.com/men-pay-a-penalty-when-it-comes-to-car-insurance.htm

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/older-drivers/fatalityfacts/older-people/2013

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/roadway-and-environment/fatalityfacts/roadway-and-environment/2013#Speeding

http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_27160009/redondo-beach-3-killed-9-injured-car-plows

http://www.ky3.com/news/local/big-rigs-okd-to-speed-up-on-ruralarea-arkansas-highways/21048998_31751486

http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/pedestrians-and-bicyclists/fatalityfacts/pedestrians/2013

Methodology:

We used the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to analyze and chart pedestrian fatalities in every state. For the deadliest intersections, we only included streets that had at least three total fatalities in one year. We entered the coordinates into Google Maps to get the Street View image of each exact location.

 


NOTE: If you're a journalist interested in covering this project, we encourage you to use any of the graphics included above. We just ask that you attribute Auto Insurance Center fairly in your coverage and provide a link to this page so that your audience can learn more about our work. If you'd like to discuss this project, or any of our other research, reach out to us at [email protected].