ORLANDO, Fla – The Daytona Beach area was ranked number one and Metro Orlando number eight in the top 20 most dangerous metro areas for pedestrian deaths in 2022, according to Smart Growth America.
The Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville metro area was ranked number 12.
Smart Growth America said the number of people struck and killed while walking has been steadily increasing since 2009, reaching another new high in 2020 and likely a historic one in 2021.
The organization highlights in their study that U.S. roads are dangerous by design because they are designed primarily to move cars quickly at the expense of keeping everyone safe.
They said that even though there was less traffic during the pandemic, the number of pedestrian deaths increased.
The number of deaths increased because since there was less traffic congestion, drivers were going faster, overlooking pedestrians, getting them struck or killed, according to the study.
Smart Growth America said they expect the increase for 2021 to be between 11% and 13% higher than the 6,529 deaths recorded in 2020, a historic jump, researchers said.
The Governors Highway Safety Association released in May that 7,845 people walking were struck and killed in 2021, which would be the highest number in 40 years and one of the biggest single-year jumps in decades, according to the study.
The study also said, Black, Native American, older adults and people walking in low-income neighborhoods were struck and killed at much higher rates than other populations in 2020.
The chart below shows the 20 most dangerous metropolitan areas in the United States, according to the study. Seven are in Florida.
Researchers also said that every single one of the 20 most deadly metro areas has grown more deadly over the last decade.
Smart Growth America proposed some ways to address the issue of pedestrian safety:
- By obtaining better traffic and pedestrian data
- Federal agencies must use every tool at their disposal to improve safety
- The USDOT should steer more funding toward improving safety
- Congress should fully fund all programs intended for combating the rising rates of pedestrian fatalities
- States must make safety the top priority governing all street design decision
- States must use the enormous freedom and flexibility of federal funds to prioritize safety
- Cities and towns can lead the way on prioritizing safety, and they should pressure their states to follow suit
Researchers said safer design is the most effective enforcement solution to pedestrian fatalities because traffic enforcement cannot do the job of better roadway design.
They said enforcing financial penalties is not the solution because it’s a trap for working families in a vicious cycle of poverty, but design is an upstream solution.
Researchers said, when streets are designed with safety in mind, people intuitively drive more slowly, noticing signals and preventing them from dangerous behavior.
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