What's Behind the Troublingly High Pedestrian Death Rate?


The boroughs of New York City and the metro's surrounding environs collectively comprise what is perhaps the most dynamic and diverse collection of humanity in the country, if not the world.

New Yorkers certainly feel that way. There is an unparalleled cosmopolitan feel to the city and spirited energy that individually marks each of its many distinct locales.

That the city is also busy - seemingly everywhere and at every moment of each day - is manifestly apparent.

It is that reality we focus on in today's blog post, specifically the nexus between the rush and vigor of New York City and its resulting effects upon pedestrian safety.

Things can get dangerous out there.

And not just across NYC's sprawling urban localities.

In fact, relevant statistics recently produced by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveal that the United States as a whole has become rather alarming for walkers. A recent Consumer Reports article cites IIHS data revealing that pedestrian fatalities nationally "soared by 46 percent in 2016 [the most recently measured year] from their lowest point in 2009."

More specifically, that means this: Nearly 6,000 pedestrians died that year in accidents involving vehicles. That equated to more than 16 deaths on an "average" day of the year.

Such sad and sobering numbers beg the simplest of questions, namely this: Why?

A number of factors obviously contribute to the pedestrian fatality toll, especially in dense and crowded municipalities like NYC. The Consumer Reports focus cites some key reasons for the problematic safety numbers, including these:

  • Improving economy and reasonably priced gas (puts more vehicles on roads)
  • Higher speed limits than in prior years posted in some areas
  • More SUVs and other large passenger vehicles being purchased
  • Lack of adequate sidewalks and other walking spaces
  • Inadequate roadway maintenance
  • More people out walking for health reasons

We'll take a look at some death-reduction strategies that safety experts and regulators are promoting in our next blog post.