Once introduced, cars quickly became part of America’s culture — but with the automobile also came driver, passenger, and pedestrian traffic fatalities. Per capita traffic fatalities, including pedestrian deaths, have declined by nearly 30% in the last decade, but they remain a serious problem. In 2014, 32,675 people died from traffic-related car crashes, nearly 15% of which were pedestrians.
Being a pedestrian in some states is vastly more dangerous than in others. 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the highest pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 people, based on traffic accident data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The safest state is Minnesota, with 0.27 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people. New Mexico is the most dangerous state for pedestrians, with 3.55 killed in traffic accidents per 100,000 residents.
While the federal government provides tools and resources to identify risks, pedestrian safety must ultimately be handled at the state and local levels. Due to the complexity of identifying and mitigating threats to pedestrians, states have differing levels of success combatting these risks.
One of the many factors influencing the large discrepancy between pedestrian safety among states is that risks can vary meaningfully from place to place. For example, the vast majority of pedestrian deaths — 76% — occur in urban areas, where people are more likely to be walking near roadways. Speed limits, the prevalence of sidewalks, and a number of other factors can impact pedestrian fatalities as well.
> Pedestrian fatalities per 100,000:1.77
> Total pedestrian fatalities: 476 (3rd highest)
> Total traffic fatalities: 3,538 (the highest)
In some states, pedestrian fatalities have declined significantly, but in others conditions have worsened. Although per capita pedestrian fatalities in Minnesota have decreased by 63% from 2004 to 2014, they increased by more than 100% in Rhode Island over the same time period.
To identify the most dangerous states for pedestrians, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed traffic-related fatality rates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including total traffic and pedestrian fatalities, for 2014. To determine the change in pedestrian fatalities, we also considered 2004 data from the NHTSA. We also reviewed population data from the U.S. Census Bureau.