LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — According to the 2021 Dangerous by Design report, the number of people struck and killed by drivers nationwide while walking increased by 45 percent over the last decade.
The four most recent years on record 2016 to 2019 are the most deadly years for pedestrian deaths since 1990. During this ten-year period, 53,435 people were hit and killed by drivers, according to the report.
In 2019, the 6,237 people killed is the equivalent of more than 17 people dying per day.
RISK NOT EVENLY DISTRIBUTED
Although people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and income levels suffer the report argues that due to street design, some neighborhoods and groups of people bear a larger share of the burden than others.
The report says that from 2010-2019, Black people were struck and killed by drivers at a 82 percent higher rate than White, non-Hispanic Americans.
For American Indian and Alaska Native people, that disparity climbs to 221 percent.
People age 50 and up, especially those older than 75, are overrepresented in these deaths because these groups are more likely to experience challenges seeing, hearing, or moving.
Based on these trends, the report says more focus needs to be devoted to the unique needs of older adults when we streets are designed.
RISK IN LOWER INCOME NEIGHBORHOODS
According to the pedestrian death report, people walking in lower-income neighborhoods are also killed far more often. The lower a metro area’s median household income, the more dangerous its streets are likely to be for people walking.
The fatality rate in the lowest income neighborhoods was nearly twice that of middle income census tracts (in median household income) and almost three times that of higher-come neighborhoods. This is unsurprising, given that low-income communities are significantly less likely than higher-income communities to have sidewalks, marked crosswalks, and street design to support safer, slower speeds.
Protecting the safety of all people who use the street, especially those most vulnerable to being struck and killed, needs to be a higher priority for policymakers, and this priority must be reflected in the decisions we make about how to fund, design, operate, maintain, and measure the success of our roads.
REVERSING THE TREND
To reverse these trends and save lives, the study suggests better protecting users of the transportation system through our policies, programs, and funding, while prioritizing the safety of those most at risk.
The report claims that state and local transportation agencies place a higher value on speed or avoiding a traffic delay than they do on safety.
The report hopes a fundamentally different approach to building and operating streets and roads will reduce deaths.
MOST DANGEROUS AREAS
Dangerous by Design ranks states and metropolitan areas around the country using a Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI), which measures how deadly it is for people to walk based on the number of people struck and killed by drivers while walking.
According to their PDI, Nevada ranked 11th for pedestrian fatalities, with Las Vegas, Henderson Paradise in 22nd place, with 485 pedestrian death from 2010 to 2019.
SUGGESTED ACTIONS TO IMPROVE PEDESTRIAN SAFETY
The Dangerous by Design report suggests federal government take the lead on prioritizing safer streets. They say federal funds, policies, and guidance have a significant role to play in fixing and designing streets of the future.