Public Safety & Justice

Neighborhoods with the Highest Pedestrian Death Rates

View maps of a few of the nation's deadliest places for pedestrians.
by | August 11, 2014
AP/David Tulis
 

Every major metropolitan region has its share of pedestrian fatalities, with 4,000 to 5,000 deaths occurring nationwide each year. But within these urban areas, select neighborhoods are registering notably higher tallies of deaths.

A community may experience more pedestrian-related crashes for a number of reasons. Major roadways with higher speed limits may run right through it. Densely populated areas or those surrounding major attractions also experience a greater risk factor with more people out on the street.

A recent Governing analysis found poorer neighborhoods record significantly higher per-capita pedestrian death rates -- typically twice that of other communities.

Using the same data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System for accidents from 2008 up through 2012, it's possible to identify a few of the deadliest neighborhoods for pedestrians.

Neighborhoods are delineated by Census tracts, which are considered “relatively permanent geographic entities” within counties by the Census Bureau.

Here are the neighborhoods of at least 3,000 residents with the most pedestrian deaths per capita over the five-year period:

Baltimore County, Maryland, Census Tract #452400

Of all tracts with at least 3,000 residents, this tract in Baltimore County recorded the highest death rate. Nine pedestrians lost their lives, with most occurring in the area surrounding the Eastpoint Mall west of downtown Baltimore.

The large shopping center is flanked by an eight-lane highway to the south (where four deaths occurred) and a six-lane roadway to the north.

(Red lines denote the Census tract boundaries. Zoom out or pan the map to view the entire tract.)

Twenty-two pedestrians were killed throughout Baltimore County last year – a five-year high. Elise Armacost, a police spokesperson, said this prompted the county to launch a public awareness campaign this summer.

Like the area near the mall, much of the deaths throughout the county occur along heavily-trafficked multi-lane roadways.

“People are crossing these roads because they want to get to the other side of the road as quickly as possible,” Armacost said. “It can be hard to get the message out to people to change their behavior.”

The county plans to advertise on bus stops because that’s around where many pedestrian crashes occur. Public works crews also have installed new sidewalks and other pedestrian-related improvements in accident-prone areas, Armacost said.

Navajo County, AZ, Census Tract #940301

Ten pedestrians lost their lives along a corridor in an Indian reservation in Whiteriver, Ariz.

The tract’s high death toll illustrates greater risks for two demographic groups. For one, American Indians die in pedestrian crashes at approximately double the rate of other racial and ethnic groups, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. Five of the 10 accident victims were also age 80 or older, another group with exponentially higher death rates.

More than half of the tract's 4,000 residents live in poverty, according to Census estimates.

Most fatal accidents were reported along the same thruway. From the map, it's clear there were no crosswalks anywhere near where crashes occurred.

Bay County, FL, Census Tract #2701

A Census tract along the Florida Panhandle in Panama City recorded the third-most per capita deaths over the five-year period.

Five of the seven total deaths occurred along a divided highway; two others happened near a beach.

Alameda County, CA, Census Tract #409000

This next tract is characterized by heavy pedestrian foot traffic. To the north sits the Oakland A’s baseball stadium, while the Oakland International Airport occupies the southern portion of the tract.

Federal data indicates four pedestrians died along Interstate 880, an eight-lane highway.

Bronx County, NY, Census Tract #6300

The tract with the fifth-highest per capita deaths is in an area of the Bronx with many automobiles and high pedestrian foot traffic. It’s home to several parks, a shopping center, Yankee Stadium and a major expressway.

Here's the raw data for the top ten tracts with the highest fatality rates and at least 3,000 residents:

Census Tract Population Deaths Deaths per 10K
Baltimore County, MD, Tract 452400 3,367 9 26.7
Navajo County, AZ, Tract 940301 4,078 10 24.5
Bay County, FL, Tract 2701 3,349 7 20.9
Alameda County, CA, Tract 409000 4,102 7 17.1
Bronx County, NY, Tract 6300 5,447 9 16.5
McKinley County, NM, Tract 943902 3,811 6 15.7
Prince George's Co., MD, Tract 801907 3,249 5 15.4
DeKalb County, GA, Tract 21417 5,273 8 15.2
Miami-Dade County, FL, Tract 5102 3,537 5 14.1
Mohave County, AZ, Tract 951402 3,560 5 14.0
SOURCE: NHTSA FARS data, 2008-12 American Community Survey population estimates

There are some limitations to comparing tracts on a per capita basis, though. In most of these neighborhoods, a lot more are people out walking than the resident population would suggest. One could also consider the land area of each neighborhood, but Census tracts vary greatly in size and miles of roadway don’t always correspond with land area.

For all Census tracts (regardless of population), the area encompassing Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., recorded the highest deaths per capita, but only because just a few people live there.

In terms of total deaths, data indicates a tract spanning Dallas’ Stemmons Corridor recorded 14 pedestrian fatalities from 2008 to 2012, the most nationally. While a major highway runs through the area, the tract also tallied more deaths in part because it's much larger than others.

To view where pedestrian fatalities occurred in your neighborhood, please refer to our national map.

More Data

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