Virginia’s Ten-Year Pedestrian Death Toll: 865

Unsafe roads are ubiquitous in sprawling, low-density settlement patterns

Smart Growth America’s 2019 “Dangerous By Design” report compiles a Pedestrian Danger Index based on annual pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people between 2008 and 2017. Among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, the safest metro in the country for pedestrians is Provo, Utah. The most dangerous is Orlando, Fla.

Washington-Arlington ranked 24th safest in the country. The region’s 764 pedestrian fatalities over the decade amounted to a rate of 1.25 death per 100,000 residents.

Virginia Beach-Norfolk was close behind, ranking 26th safest. The region’s 213 pedestrian fatalities amount to a rate of 1.24 deaths per 100,000.

Virginia’ most dangerous metro for pedestrians was Richmond — 52nd safest in the country. The region’s 175 pedestrian deaths amount to a rate per 100,000 of 1.39.

Statewide, Virginia fared a tad better than the national average: 865 pedestrian fatalities, amounting to 1.04 deaths per 100,000.

Bacon’s bottom line: Let’s face it. When it comes to public health scourges, pedestrian fatalities is pretty low on the list of things to worry about. But the Loss of 865 lives over a decade is not trivial. And unlike some problems, which seem utterly intractable, it is within our power to design safer, pedestrian-friendly streets and settlement patterns. Writes Smart Growth America: “Rather than designing roads that encourage speeding and then relying upon enforcement, states and cities should design roads to encourage safer, slower driving speeds in the first place.”

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9 responses to “Virginia’s Ten-Year Pedestrian Death Toll: 865”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    People drive much faster than they should in areas where there ARE pedestrians and they also play with their cell phones – a deadly combination.

    We know how to make safer streets in areas where there are pedestrians. You use curbs and islands and make the road narrower… a full range of these things are available and it’s up to the locality to have the backbone to protect people lives even when the don’t-give-a-crap folks are complaining about their “rights”.

    I walk most days in a National Park where the speed limit is 25 mph and there are others walking, dogs, joggers, etc and there are always some folks apparently don’t know _hit from shinola when it comes to how you drive around pedestrians. This is why you don’t “ask” them to drive with more courtesy – you just put in the infrastructure to control them and be done with it.

    Fredericksburg City – to their credit is putting these on many city streets:

  2. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Their is a very dangerous 5-way intersection near me, but it keeps me from hoofing it to the little seasonal ice cream store over on Arthur Ashe Blvd so it serves a useful purpose. A nice trustworthy crosswalk and I’d go once a week.

  3. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Transportation-related deaths are up in the Metro D.C. area for all categories, auto, bike and pedestrian. Major causes continue to be distraction (drivers, bikers and pedestrians), speed (drivers) and impaired operator (drivers and pedestrians).

  4. I’ve seen women in full chador cross roads busier than this. Pedestrians, see it so much, don’t have the brains or common sense to simply watch and cross correctly. On cell phones, ear phones, etc. When it is obvious that a car can kill you, priority says: stop, watch, and pay attention. I never care who has the right of way, I will be the one to pay for the mistake with my life (in a nutshell). I get cars going first unless they motion to me and I won’t even get out close to the curb. No distractions, I am completely focused on the vehicles as I would a loaded gun. The mentality is the issue. Foreigners, especially from Asian countries, Middle East, think we’re stupid as dirt because they can deal with it without crosswalks, etc.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    The basic problem is that a pedestrian is NOT going to kill you if he/she runs into you; they are not a deadly threat even if they get distracted or even if they go too fast in proximity to others.

    That’s simply not true for vehicles and the vast majority of people who drive in proximity to pedestrians tend to take care – drop their speed – drop their cell for a minute. But there are always a few who will not and that’s the problem and that’s why you have to build protective infrastructure that most will follow anyhow and the others who won’t no longer can be idiots.

    Unfortunately in a lot of matters of things like this – there is always a few who force more restrictions even if everyone else behaves.

    I’m NOT talking about the bike guys/gals who have attitude and move aggressively either- I’m talking about the majority who are kids, elderly, ordinary folks – on foot and people in cars just fail to use common sense and due diligence and it’s too late once they hit a pedestrian and kill them or maim them for life.

    You really can’t “fix” folks like that – it’s why you see zig-zag line dividers at McDs… Most folks would politely line up behind each other without the dividers – but then come the “outta my way” jerks who just bull their way in. The same folks are a menace to others in other situations including car vs pedestrian. If they are in a car and you are on foot – you better be paying attention unless the locality has put in the facilities to keep these fools in line.

  6. From 2016 to 2017, pedestrian deaths decreased in every category except drunken pedestrians. See
    The opposite was true from 2017 (1608 total in 2017, with 114 fatal) to 2018 (1623 total in 2018, with 123 fatal). Does anyone want to take the time to find the annual data for the past 50 years? I would especially like to know the effect of the Virginia law that gives the pedestrian the right of way at crosswalks and corners.

  7. LarrytheG Avatar

    Pedestrians, by law, have a right to use publicly-paid for infrastructure AND to do so with safety. Remember – the general sales tax collected from all citizens generates a billion dollars to a year to VDOT.

    In terms of “drunken” – what percentage of the total is due to that? looking at increases/decreases for particular categories is not the same as total overall deaths.

  8. djrippert Avatar

    Pedestrian fatalities seem like something low on the list to worry about until one of your friends from the past becomes a fatality. Duncan Smyly and I went to Groveton High School together. He was a great guy. Killed while walking outside of Richmond by a motorist with no license. Terribly sad loss.

  9. Interesting data, Larry, but how about for Fairfax County or Virginia? Why did the rate decrease to the minimum in 2009, but then climb back up to the 1990 rate? The pedestrians were given the right of way at crosswalks and corners around the year 2009. Did the law so embolden them that they challenge the drivers, to their own detriment? Most pedestrians yield to the automobiles, but I have had some step in front of my car such that I had to make a hard stop. Pedestrians should have the equivalent of a stop sign before each crosswalk and corner and should be as considerate as car drivers usually are — not pulling out such that the other driver must make a hard stop.

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