A pedestrian was killed every 2 hours in crashes across the country in 2012. One was injured every 7 minutes.
The perfect conditions for a pedestrian to be killed in 2012 was on a clear or cloudy evening (when 89% of deadly collisions occurred, compared with rainy, foggy or snowy conditions) on the weekend, between 8 p.m. and midnight (when 37% of crashes occurred), on a city street (where 73% of crashes occurred, compared with rural roads) in the middle of the block (70% of crashes did not occur at intersections).
All this is according to the latest pedestrian traffic safety report from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The report, which comes out once a year, paints a picture of the prototypical victim too: he was more likely to be male (69% of those pedestrians killed in 2012 were), and more likely to be over 65 (20% of those killed were; the highest fatality rate of any age group).
4,743 pedestrians were killed across the United States in 2012, all told — that number is up 6 percent from 2011; the highest death toll in the last 5 years. Nationwide, pedestrian deaths as a share of traffic fatalities have been trending upward at a steady pace over the last decade — the rate hovered at 11% from 2003 to 2007, creeped up to 12% in ’08 and ’09, to 13% in 2010, then 14% in ’11 and ’12.
New York City has always had a high number of pedestrian deaths, and a high percentage of pedestrians killed as a share of traffic fatalities, and the report confirms, New York is still the deadliest city for pedestrians. The “Pedestrian deaths by city” table didn’t appear in the NHTSA reports in 2010 or 2011, but it was back this year, and New York City (reigning champion from ’08 and ’09) maintained the top spot. That’s right: number one in pedestrian fatalities, baby.
New York lost 127 pedestrians in 2012, the most pedestrians of any American city. We landed in the top five for cities with the highest percentage of pedestrians killed as a share of traffic collisions too — beat out by Denver (50%), Fresno and San Francisco (48% each), but tying Washington D.C. with pedestrians representing 47% of total traffic deaths.
The report contained some surprising figures too — like the fact that alcohol was present in 48% of crashes that killed pedestrians, but it was more often the pedestrian who was intoxicated (34% of the time) than the driver (14% of the time)… It’s probably worth taking those particular numbers with a grain of salt though, since 19% of the pedestrians killed in 2012 were killed in hit-and-run crashes — crashes in which the driver, presumably, fled the scene.
Most pedestrians were hit head-on (86%) by a single vehicle (90%). Passenger cars, SUV’s, pickups and vans had the highest percentage of deadly front-impacts (90%, 89%, 90%, and 89%, respectively), while large trucks were more likely to kill a pedestrian while backing up, or by swiping them on their right side (8% and 7%, respectively).
If this all strikes you as a bit morbid, there was a small glimmer of light in all the darkness: On Friday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that New York City would be one of three cities receiving grants to help reduce pedestrian deaths through education. The NHTSA gave New York $805,801, according to a statement, “to address speeding drivers and drivers who do not yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. The city will work on reaching the demographic most likely to be in pedestrian crashes–young men–through social media and enforcement activities in high-crash areas.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 29, 2014