Saturday, December 03, 2005

Death Toll Rises in the 'Burbs! Pedestrians Slaughtered by the Hundreds!

That's a panicky headline you'll never read in Virginia's newspapers, which don't seem to place the same premium on a life lost to a suburban automobile accident as a life lost in an inner-city drug deal gone bad. But I'll give the Associated Press credit, a recent headline -- "Walkers May Find Danger in South" -- comes close.

A story published in this morning's Times-Dispatch notes that an increasing number of Hispanics, who live and work in the suburbs but often don't own their own cars, are getting hit by vehicles as they cross roads not designed for pedestrians. "Hispanics die in pedestrian-vehicle accidents at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group" in most Southern states, the story stated. In Mississippi, the worst state, the pedestrian fatality rate was 4.72 deaths per 100,000 Hispanics (the article did not say which year).

Critics blame poor urban planning. Said the AP:

"Northern cities are better designed for pedestrians because most boomed before vehicles became the main most of transportation," said Sally Flocks, president of Atlanta-based Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety. "That didn't happen in the South until after cars became dominant. Sidewalks then became an afterthought."


At 12:30 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

If you put sidewalks/bike trails on one or both sides of a rural/suburban road, how does that prevent someone from being hit crossing the road?

I have previously quoted other sources that have reported high rural accident deaths in the south. Those sources pointed out that other factors than design appear to be more highly correlated. Correlation, of course, in no way implies causality.

It is not clear whether these statistics compare southern cities to northern cities or southern rural areas to northern suburbs (rural areas being almost extinct).

There is no doubt that rural accident deaths are higher, but the overall death rate from all causes varies little.


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