Rising fuel prices and warmer temperatures are feeding an increase in pedestrian traffic through the upcoming summer months. Boston is a famously walkable city, as are many scenic cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth. Though crosswalks and warning lights help to keep pedestrians safe, drivers and walkers still face a significant amount of danger when they intersect. Smart Growth America recently published extensive data outlining pedestrian safety by Massachusetts counties and metro areas between the years 2003-2012.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that traffic fatalities increased in 2012 (the most recent year in which data is available) for the first time since 2005. For the third straight year, pedestrian fatalities have risen significantly on a national level. Smart Growth America’s Massachusetts data provides insight into specific categories and ways in which the state can make life-saving improvements in pedestrian safety.
Through the years 2003 to 2013, 716 pedestrians were hit and killed in Massachusetts. That’s 17.8% of the 4,015 total traffic-related fatalities in the Commonwealth during the years studied. According to Smart Growth America, “Massachusetts’s overall Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) is 21.87, which places it 43rd nationally.” The Pedestrian Danger Index is based on the number of local commuters in that area that walk or bike to work. Comparatively, the national PDI is 52.2, more than twice the score of Massachusetts.
Of all pedestrian injuries and fatalities, a disproportionate amount of them affected either minors or elderly adults according to CDC Data. Pedestrian injury is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 15 years of age. Every year, 18,000 children are admitted to the hospital for pedestrian injury across the United States as a whole. Children are at an increased risk for this type of injury because their small stature makes them difficult for drivers to see on the road, and because recent studies show young children may not be able to accurately judge the speed in which a car is traveling at them.
Adults over 65 are also at a significantly higher risk of pedestrian injury and fatality. While they account for only 13.4 percent of the population in Massachusetts, “adults aged 65 or older account for 33.3 percent of pedestrian fatalities across the state from 2003-2010,” according to the CDC, via Smart Growth America. The slower reaction time and frailty of elderly adults makes them especially vulnerable.
Though the danger still looms for those who have ditched their cars in favor of a bike or their own feet, numerous crucial safety improvements have been implemented including:
• The Safe Routes to Schools program helped redesign safer streets for children to walk to area schools • Lowered speed limits in pedestrian-heavy areas • Improved sight lines and visibility at crossings • Americans with Disabilities Act compliant ramps and crosswalks • Direct crossing routes across complex or especially dangerous intersections • Dedicated bike lanes • New vehicle technology including airbags deployed from the hood of a car.
Even with the monumental advancements in pedestrian safety, the data proves that there is still a significant amount of work to be done. Car accidents are a part of daily life, and recovery from these incidents can be difficult, but physically and financially. Injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident can be extremely painful and life-altering. Victims may not be able to return to work, or in the worst case, family members must mourn the loss of a loved one. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, Altman & Altman would like to help. Our dedicated attorneys have decades of experience successful handling car accident cases and are available to help around the clock. You should contact a Boston Injury Lawyer right away to find out whether to proceed with this route.
To read the full Smart Growth America report, click here