In light of the new tech era with cars that drive themselves, park themselves and brake in emergencies if needed, the focus has shifted away from pedestrian safety. People are more concerned with speed and the time it takes to travel to their destination than avoiding a crash involving a pedestrian. In portions of Texas, the posted speed limit is 85 mph, which is the highest in the nation. It is not surprising that Texas was ranked in the top 10 most dangerous states for pedestrians in the 2019 Dangerous by Design study. The study states that 49,340 pedestrian deaths occurred between 2008 and 2017. In just 2016 and 2017, approximately 12,000 pedestrians were killed in U.S., which were the deadliest years for people killed by drivers while walking.
There are multiple factors to consider why the pedestrian death toll is increasing in the United States. Most notably, roads are designed with speed as a priority. Additionally, the increase in the number of SUVs driven in America pose a great risk to pedestrians. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that SUVs are two to three times more likely than smaller vehicles to kill people walking in the event of a crash. As always, distracted driving plays a role in pedestrian deaths.
Florida was ranked the number 1 worst state for pedestrians, claiming 8 out of the top 10 most dangerous metropolitan cities for walking. According to the report, Indianapolis was ranked 41 out of 100 and as a whole Indiana was ranked the 22nd worst state for pedestrian safety. Interestingly, the sunbelt states fill 9 out of the top 10 most dangerous pedestrian states. Vermont was ranked the safest state for pedestrians, with Alaska and Iowa as the second and third safest.
The Dangerous by Design report claims that Congress should adopt a Federal Complete Streets Policy. Complete street policies direct transportation planners to consider all road users, including pedestrians, when designing roads. Smart driving technology can bring additional safety precautions for pedestrians, although when that technology will be widely available is unknown. To lower the risk of injury, drivers and pedestrians should be aware of each other and take necessary precautions to ensure maximum safety.