Texas Ranks High in Pedestrian Deaths

More than 47,700 pedestrians were killed in the U.S. between 2000 and 2009. And 4,212 of them - nearly 9 percent - died on the streets and highways of Texas, giving the state the 9 th highest Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) in the country. The Austin metro area, with 231 pedestrian accident deaths during this period, was ranked the 14 th most dangerous city for pedestrians among southern cities of a million residents or more.

While 12 percent of all traffic deaths involve pedestrians, states have traditionally ignored them by allocating only 1.5 percent of federal funds to enhance their safety. As a result, pedestrians on "arterial" roads - those designed strictly to promote the speedy flow of traffic - have proven particularly deadly. For example, nearly 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities happened on roads with speed limits of 40 mph or more. Also, more than 40 percent were killed on roads that lacked a crosswalk.

Racial and ethnic minorities, children and older Americans - groups less likely to have access to a car - suffered disproportionately. Between 2000 and 2007, 526 pedestrians 65 or older were killed in Texas, a rate of 3.0 per 100,000 residents, significantly higher than the 1.9 per 100,000 for residents under 65. The data ranks Texas 12 th nationally in pedestrian fatalities for those over 65.

Communities Trend Toward a Complete Streets Approach to Improve Safety

But times are changing. Since 67 percent of all pedestrian fatalities occurred on roads eligible to receive federal funding for construction or improvement, communities throughout the U.S. are prompting Congress to make pedestrian safety a higher priority. Investments in "complete streets" are adding sidewalks, bicycle lanes and crosswalks to make walking and biking safer.

A multi-year federal transportation bill now being drafted will guide funding priorities for states and cities in the years to come. A report by advocacy group T4America.org suggests that minimal investment can prevent injury and death of both pedestrians and motorists. Communities committed to safety can:

  • Maintain dedicated federal funding for pedestrian and bicycle safety
  • Adopt a "complete streets" policy for all federally funded roads
  • Target safety for non-motorists with sidewalks, bicycle paths and trails
  • Commit highway safety funding to improve pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure
  • Set individual safety goals for pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles and motorists
  • Hold states accountable for creating safe pedestrian environment

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to understand the options available to you.