Is It Too Dangerous to Walk in Atlanta?

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A new report on fatalities caused by car-pedestrian accidents has ranked Atlanta as the eighth “most dangerous place to walk” in the nation.

The Dangerous by Design report by the National Complete Streets Coalition features an analysis of pedestrian deaths in 51 major metropolitan areas. The report ranks each area based on its “pedestrian danger index,” or “the rate of pedestrian deaths relative to the number of people who walk to work in the region.”

According to the report, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta metro area has a PDI of 119.35. The report noted that 839 pedestrians died in the area between 2003 and 2012.

Sun Belt Cities Rank High on List of ‘Dangerous’ Places for Pedestrians

There has been a rise in pedestrian fatalities nationwide in recent years after several years of steady decline, according to the report. In 2012, pedestrians represented 15 percent of all U.S. traffic deaths.

Researchers say the most deadly region of the country is the Sun Belt, which includes Georgia and other states in the southeast and southwest United States. For example, the four metropolitan areas at the top of the “most dangerous places to walk list” are all in Florida: Orlando-Kissimmee (244.28 PDI), Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (190.13), Jacksonville (182.71) and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano (145.33).

Explosive suburban growth in the Sun Belt at the end of World War II meant that roads were designed with drivers in mind, not necessarily pedestrians, the report’s authors say.

Report Notes Troubling Trends in Pedestrian Safety

The report highlights numerous troubling facts and statistics about pedestrian accidents, including:

  • The number of pedestrian traffic fatalities nationally is at an all-time high, with more than 47,000 killed in the past 10 years.
  • Arterial roads, which are built to handle higher speeds and a higher number of vehicles, are the most dangerous for pedestrians. Yet many shops, restaurants, apartment complexes and office parks are being built today along those roadways, meaning there will be more people on foot in the deadliest areas.
  • A large proportion of pedestrians killed are children. Pedestrian collisions are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury for children between ages 5 and 9, and more than 18,000 are admitted to hospitals every year due to pedestrian injuries. Of that number, 11 percent require surgery and 23 percent are noted to suffer from long-term psychological damage.

The National Complete Streets Coalition uses the report to propose several ways to improve pedestrian safety, including developing “complete streets” that include pedestrian-friendly features such as crosswalks and dedicated bus and bike lanes.

Thankfully, this is a program that the Georgia Department of Transportation already supports. In 2012, the State Transportation Board adopted a resolution committed to implementing road design and redesigns with pedestrians, cyclists, those with disabilities and transit users in mind.

This type of progressing city planning is especially crucial as the number of senior citizens in Georgia is projected to double by 2032. Elderly adults frequently are victims of pedestrian accidents, statistics show. Cycling and commuting on foot are also expected to grow in Georgia, making it essential for the state to continue with the push for complete streets.

For the safety of everyone – pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike – please encourage the development of complete streets in your neighborhoods and communities.

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