Thursday, January 12, 2017

NEWS | Report indicates 13 pedestrians die daily, poor street planning blamed

By Mary Kuhlman
Ohio News Connection

On average, 13 people are killed every day from being hit by a vehicle, and older adults and people of color are most often the victims. A new report, "Dangerous By Design," takes a look at pedestrian deaths by city and state. It found between 2005 and 2014, more than 4,600 people were struck and killed by cars while walking.

Emiko Atherton, director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, says the way streets are designed is a factor in these fatal collisions. Many of the deaths occur on streets with fast-moving cars and poor pedestrian infrastructure. She says lower-income communities tend to have more fatalities.

"People of color and older adults are disproportionately represented in pedestrian deaths," she said. "For instance, non-whites, including Hispanics, account for 34.9 percent of the national population, but 46.1 percent of pedestrian deaths."

Ohio ranks 27th nationally with 964 pedestrian deaths reported between 2005 and 2014. The report says with the exception of Delaware, the most dangerous states for pedestrians are all in the South, and Florida has the most pedestrian deaths.

This is the fourth year for the report, but Atherton says it's the first in-depth look at who the victims are. The U.S. Surgeon General has urged Americans to get more physical activity, including encouraging people to walk to school, work and around their neighborhood. Atherton says there are certain groups who are taking that advice to heart.

"And we also are starting to see a great increase in preferences particularly between Millennials, and a desire between adults over 65 and older, to walk more," she added.

Traffic crashes were the second-leading cause of unintentional injury death in the United States between 2011 and 2014. The report says Americans are 7.2 times more likely to die as a pedestrian than from a natural disaster.

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