November 9, 2009 / 4:50 PM / 9 years ago

Florida most dangerous state for pedestrians

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Florida, with four of the five most treacherous metropolitan areas for walking, is the most dangerous state in the United States for pedestrians.

Traffic slows down along Biscayne Boulevard in Miami, Florida February 26, 2008. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and Jacksonville and their surrounding areas were the top four hazardous cities for walkers in the Pedestrian Danger Index, which is used to assess the risk of walking in urban areas, followed by Memphis, Tennessee.

Nine of the top 10 cities, which included Raleigh, North Carolina, Louisville in Kentucky, Houston, Texas, Birmingham in Alabama and Atlanta, are in the southern United States.

“These areas are dominated by lower density and automobile-orientated development patterns, which include high-speed urban arterials that are particularly hazardous for walking,” according to the report by Transportation for America, (T4), a coalition of organizations focused on transportation problems.

More than 9,000 pedestrians were killed in collisions with cars and trucks in 2007 and 2008, and 70,000 more were injured, according to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

More than 700 pedestrians killed during the same period were 15-years or younger.

“Safety for pedestrians has not advanced a greal deal,” said Anne Camby, the executive director of the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership, a coalition working to ensure safer roads.

“In the metro areas where walking is most hazardous the design of those communities came about mostly after the Second World War and were auto-orientated in their design and pedestrians and bicyclists were not considered with any great attention,” she added in a conference call about the report.

Among the safest metro cities to take a stroll in are Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota, Boston, New York, Pittsburgh and Seattle.

T4 analyzed 52 metropolitan areas with a population of more than a million people for the report. The findings are based on the average pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 residents and the percentage of residents who commute to work on foot.

Although Florida has a high number of elderly retired residents, the report showed that the portion of elderly dying as pedestrians in Florida is not out of line with the rest of the country.

“Seventeen percent of pedestrians in Florida in the years studied were older Americans, the same as the national average of 17 percent,” the report said.

Hawaii, California and New York have the highest fatality rates for people over 65 years old, who are two-thirds more likely to be killed in traffic crashes than younger people.

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