Wednesday, March 18, 2015

NHTSA Pedestrian Safety Facts

Photo courtesy of

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is out with its annual report on pedestrian safety (or rather, lack thereof), and has put together a helpful fact sheet that outlines some of the key findings from its evaluation of traffic crashes involving pedestrians in 2013.

There aren't many big surprises (children and seniors are disproportionately hurt or killed while walking, alcohol plays a role in many pedestrian crashes, more people are hit at night), but a couple things struck me:
  • Over two-thirds of pedestrian fatalities were men. It's hard to say why this is. I suspect one reason is that men walk more at night, whereas many women wouldn't feel safe doing so. Irony.
  • California, Texas and Florida have the most pedestrian fatalities. They also have the most people, so that's not especially surprising. On the other hand, those are all states with large Hispanic populations, who tend to walk more--and thus run more risk of being hit by cars (especially if they're living in poorer neighborhoods without good pedestrian infrastructure).
  •  Nearly 70 percent of fatalities happened at "non-intersections." There are still many people who would argue that this means pedestrians were "jaywalking"--and thus at least partially culpable for the crash. Hopefully we're moving toward a time when we recognize that poor street design, not people asserting their rights to use public space, is the real problem.
You can read through the full fact sheet here.


  1. Alcohol plays a role with pedestrian crashes, with pedestrians doing more of the playing. Wouldn't VMT be a better rating factor than population? Needs more though.

  2. One of the problems with a lot of pedestrian-related statistics is that we don't have good data about how much people walk. VMT might be a better way of evaluating crashes, but it would be best if we could actually evaluate crashes based on the number of pedestrian trips. So for example, we know that crash rates are higher in urban areas--but people also walk more in urban areas, so are the crash rates due to the higher number of pedestrian trips or is there something else going on? Without good data, it's hard to really understand the problems (and find the best solutions).