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Deadliest cities in America for pedestrians

Deadliest Cities In America For Pedestrians

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Crossing the street in some cities is way deadlier than it should be. Smart Growth America’s “Dangerous By Design” 2024 study showed that pedestrians in Memphis, Tenn., were the most likely to die, but Florida had the highest number of cities in the top 20 most dangerous metro areas.

An average of 5.14 people per 100,000 residents died in Memphis between 2018 and 2022, followed closely by Albuquerque, N.M., with 4.38 deaths per 100,000 residents.

Ten deadliest metro areas for pedestrians:

  1. Memphis, TN: 5.14 per 100,000 residents
  2. Albuquerque, NM: 4.83
  3. Tucson, AZ: 4.16
  4. Bakersfield, CA: 3.99
  5. Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond, FL: 3.96
  6. Baton Rouge, LA: 3.96
  7. Fresno, CA: 3.89
  8. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL: 3.75
  9. Charleston-North Charleston, SC: 3.66
  10. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR: 3.63

Smart Growth noted that large metro areas are becoming significantly more dangerous for pedestrians. In 2009, there were only eight areas with more than two pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents, but the number more than doubled to 18 in the 2014 report. Interestingly, 2009’s most dangerous area was Orlando, with 2.86 deaths, but that number wouldn’t even reach the top 20 in the 2024 report.

There were eight Florida metros in the top 20. Jacksonville was number 15 and had actually seen a slight decrease in deaths over a five-year period, but as Smart Growth pointed out, that improvement is likely due to population growth, not substantive safety updates. Fast-growing areas in the South and Sunbelt regions are the deadliest, with some places’ rates of pedestrian deaths growing faster than population growth.

As far as what can be done to improve pedestrian safety, the solutions will most likely come from state and local governments. Smart Growth found that 66% of all traffic deaths in its study occurred on state-owned roads. It pointed to Detroit and Buffalo, N.Y., as examples of how to make pedestrians safer, with both metros showing double-digit percent decreases in deaths since 2018.


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