Pedestrian Safety Statistics – Clean and Safe
Walking can provide health benefits equal to running, without some of running’s stresses on hips, legs and feet. These stresses include tiny breaks or cracks on the surface of the bones in the lower leg or foot – the two areas carrying most of the weight impact of running.
Instead, a consistent regimen of walking, which includes adequate distance and speed, will provide a good cardio workout without damaging your ability to get around, and can even be enhanced with a good pair of shoes.
The dangers for pedestrians or walkers are, unfortunately, the same as for runners. Even dressed in bright, conspicuous colors, walkers are somewhat at the mercy of drivers, especially in cities or neighborhoods which do not provide dedicated walking and biking lanes.
The good news is that recreational walkers and those who must walk to get around are experiencing a gradual trend downward in the number of accidents and fatalities. For example, in the last 15 years, pedestrian deaths have fallen from 5,585 (in 1995) to 4,280 (in 2010).
Following this trend, pedestrian injuries fell to 70,000 in 2010. In 2009, notes the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, 4,092 walkers died in traffic crashes, a seven percent decrease from 2008.
Pedestrian injuries ran to an estimated 70,000 for 2010, based on the number of injuries reported. Overall, injuries to walkers have been trending downward, with 14,000 fewer injuries since 1995. Over all, the decrease between 1995 and 2010 represents 23 percent. The decrease may be due to children and adult safety lessons in schools, at work, and even in the home over broadcast media.
However, NTSB notes that only a minor percentage of pedestrian injuries are reported by police and other first responders, with accidents involving minors more likely to be reported than injuries to adults. These injuries and deaths, among youngsters age 14 and less, are responsible for $5.2 billion in medical and peripheral expenses per year.
The fact that pedestrians of all ages occupy a larger than average portion of crash data – figuring more than 13 percent of fatalities but a mere 10.9 percent of trips, is a puzzling metric that demonstrates one of the biggest problems in calculating pedestrian fatalities.
This, in turn, is a direct result of the fact that transportation officials don’t have a clear sense of the walking demographic, their purpose (recreational or necessity), or their distribution per age bracket, although the assumption that children and young adults make up the preponderance of walkers seems valid.
Still, the 2010 pedestrian fatality rate remains low at 4,280, especially when compared to the roughly 800,000 fatalities as the result of heart attack or stroke among sedentary individuals. When compared to the 65,000 deaths in 2000, the 4,280 pedestrian deaths don’t even create a blip on the safety radar, notes one research article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA.
While there aren’t enough statistics to allow safety personnel to extrapolate the greatest hazards in walking, or the age at which the danger is greatest, a number of figures throw some light on the issue. For example:
- Males represented 69 percent of pedestrian fatalities in 2010
- Predictably, three out of four pedestrian fatalities occurred in congested, urban areas as opposed to rural countryside
- The four worst states for pedestrians California, Florida, Texas, and New York, which jointly account for 41 percent of pedestrian fatalities while occupying a mere 5 percent of total U.S. traffic deaths.
- The worst day of the week is Friday, which accounts for fully 48 percent of pedestrian deaths. The worst segment of the week is the weekend; e.g., Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The worst time of day is between 4 p.m. and 4 a.m., when 70 percent of pedestrian deaths occur.
- The most dangerous time of day for the 16-and-under demographic is between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
As NTSB officials note, not enough work has been done on pedestrian travel, either in calculating how many Americans walk for pleasure, where they walk, or how often or how far they go in a single session, to conclude that safety measures – improved signage, improved lighting, dedicated paths, increased law enforcement, education, highly visible sportswear, and vehicle improvements which allow drivers to sense obstacles better – are actually making a difference. Initiatives like Volvo’s electronic pedestrian avoidance system and adding noise to otherwise silent electric and hybrid vehicles are likely to have decreased pedestrian fatalities.
Hopefully, the gradual reduction in pedestrian accidents is due to improved walking conditions and not to fewer walkers. However, as grassroots initiative Transportation for America notes, decades of indifference and perhaps even scorn (the U.S. is, after all, the only developed nation where cars are iconic rather than merely useful) have led to a scenario where factoring pedestrian safety zones into streets feels like counterculture.
Article Written by SimplyLili
SimplyLili is a PhD student in Social Psychology, and the witty author of Essell Magazine; created to disperse knowledge on a plethora of psychological topics in a minimalist and relevant way. She is a self-proclaimed nerd, and her 3 fave things are blogging, rainy days, and pugs.