Pedestrian accident fatalities occur primarily in urban areas, according to
Vehicle factors also are important. In pedestrian accidents, the most serious
physical trauma responsible for disabling injuries and death comes from
pedestrians impacting vehicle bumpers, hoods, or the windshield areas
of automobiles. In addition to traffic solutions innovations such as warning
devices and medians, engineers are working to make vehicle exteriors safer
and less lethal in an effort to decrease the dangers posed to
According to the most recent statistics, 73 percent of pedestrian deaths
in 2012 occurred in urban areas, up from 59 percent in 1975. Fifty-eight
percent of pedestrian deaths in 2012 occurred on major roads other than
interstates and freeways. In the year 2012, 4,743 pedestrian fatalities
were recorded by the
CDC. Of that total, 3,483 (nearly 73 percent) occurred in urban areas within
city limits. Each year before that, the proportions have remained generally
consistent, with a notable majority of pedestrian fatalities occurring
in or close to populated cities.
Experts say the higher density of automobile traffic, coupled with the
feasibility of pedestrian travel within urban areas and compounded by
growing distractions (smartphone use) among both pedestrians and drivers,
has sustained the high proportion of deaths in urban areas.
Additional Pedestrian Accident Statistics
By comparison, the largest proportion of pedestrian fatalities in rural
areas occurs on roads with a speed limit of 55mph or greater. This may
be attributed to deaths occurring on interstates and state highways, areas
designated for high-speed vehicle travel and roads lacking sidewalks,
not intended for pedestrian travel. Many states post signs banning pedestrians
and bicyclists from interstate roadways.
Throughout the past several years, Florida has ranked consistently as one
of the top states in the US with the most annual pedestrian fatalities.
Florida’s largest cities – Tampa, Orlando, Miami, and Jacksonville
– have the highest pedestrian fatality rates in the US. Teens between
the ages of 15 and 19 are the most at-risk group for pedestrian accidents.
Youth living in urban areas face an elevated, relatively proportionate
risk of fatal pedestrian accidents on city streets.
- Pedestrian accidents are the second leading cause of death in the US for
ages 5 to 14
- Between 2004 and 2011, 116 pedestrians were hit by vehicles while wearing
headphones or ear buds; more than a third of those injured or killed were
younger than age 18
- There were a total of 4,432 pedestrian fatalities in 2011, the 14-and-younger
age group accounted for 230 (5 percent) of those fatalities
- An average of 61 children are struck by automobiles in the US every day
- 39 percent of child pedestrians died as a result of being hit in intersections
in 2010 and 56 percent were killed in other locations on the road
- 14-and-younger age group accounted for 16 percent of the pedestrian fatalities
- African Americans suffer a pedestrian death rate of 2.39 per 100,000 people
— more than 70 percent higher than the rate for non-Hispanic whites (1.38)
- Hispanics ages 65 and older have a fatality rate twice that of African
Americans, and 173 percent higher than for non-Hispanic whites
Solutions for Increasing Pedestrian Safety
Engineering measures that separate vehicles and pedestrians such as sidewalks,
refuge islands, overpasses and underpasses, and barriers can reduce the
problem. Increased illumination and improved signal timing at intersections
can also be effective. Since traffic speeds affect the risk and severity
of pedestrian crashes, reducing speeds can lower pedestrian deaths.
There are several types of medians, also known as center islands, refuge
islands, pedestrian islands, or median slow points and if designed and
applied appropriately, they have been proven to help improve pedestrian
safety in the following ways:
- In some cities, medians have reduced pedestrian accidents by 46 percent
and motor vehicle crashes by up to 39 percent.
- Medians provided pedestrians with a safe place to stop at the mid-point
of the roadway to focus on one direction of traffic at a time before crossing
the remaining distance.
- Medians enhance the visibility of pedestrian crossings, particularly at
areas without traffic signals or marked crosswalks.
- They can help reduce the average speeds of vehicles approaching pedestrian
- Medians can be used for access management for vehicles (allowing only right-in/right-out
- Medians provide additional space for supplemental warning signage on multi-lane roadways.
Raised medians should be considered in curbed sections of multi-lane roadways
in urban and suburban areas, particularly in areas where there are mixtures
of significant pedestrian and vehicle traffic (more than 12,000 Average
Daily Traffic (ADT)) and intermediate or high travel speeds. Adding medians
while increasing safe crossing awareness can help reverse the growing
trend of pedestrian accidents and curb the issue of high pedestrian fatalities
in urban areas.
US DOT FHWA