According to Transportation for America, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving U.S. transportation, four areas in Florida are ranked in the top 10 most dangerous metro areas in the country for pedestrians. The areas include Orlando/Kissimmee, Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Jacksonville and Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Pompano.
To make the list, which is featured in the organization’s 2011 Dangerous by Design Study, Transportation for America used census data on walking and 10 years of pedestrian fatality data in order to create the Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) used to rank the cities. Some cities have a lot more foot traffic than others, and to compensate for this factor, the PDI “computes the rate of pedestrian deaths relative to the amount of walking in the area,” says Michelle Ernst, who wrote the study.
That means cities with the most pedestrian deaths won’t necessarily have the highest PDI. Orlando/Kissimmee, Fla. is ranked number one with a PDI of 255.4, but there were 557 pedestrian deaths from 2000 to 2009. Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Pompano Beach, Fla., number four, had 1,555 pedestrian deaths, but has a PDI of 167.9.
Transportation for America says that on a national scale, 47,700 pedestrians died from 2000 to 2009, and that pedestrians account for 12 percent of all traffic deaths. There are far more pedestrian injuries: 688,000 in the nine-year span.
Comparing data on pedestrian deaths and driver deaths, Transportation for America finds that the number of passengers and drivers who have died in accidents within the last decade has decreased by 27 percent. “Worthy efforts to improve vehicle design, encourage seat belt and child booster seat use, eliminate drunk driving and end distracted driving have helped save the lives of thousands of motorists and their passengers,” Ernst writes. By comparison, pedestrian fatalities dropped 14 percent within 10 years. Ernst continues, writing, “… a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that pedestrian crashes are becoming deadlier, with the probability of a collision resulting in the death of a pedestrian increasing by more than one-third in just ten years.”
In response to the study, Consumer Reports writes, “Clearly, pedestrian safety is a major issue on our roads and a new report highlights those areas in America where walking near roadways brings added risks. Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a few pedestrian programs on their priority plan through 2013, including adding sound to hybrid and electric vehicles to alert pedestrians who may be walking nearby; looking at vehicle sensor systems that can detect pedestrians and reduce speed; and proposing regulations on the hood and bumper areas of vehicles to reduce injuries and fatalities to pedestrians who are hit.”
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