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Car safety is one of the most important topics for drivers, but it’s also an important topic for everyone else on the road. After all, cars have a lot of metal and high-tech features that protect the occupants, but pedestrians don’t have any protection from cars. Here’s a look at the three states that are the deadliest for pedestrians, and why that may be the case.

Is a bicyclist a driver or a pedestrian?
A bicyclist in San Francisco | Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

These three states are the deadliest for pedestrians

The GHSA recently published a report about pedestrian safety, and there were some concerning findings. From January to June 2019, there were a total of 2,915 recorded pedestrian fatalities, and in that same time period in 2020, that number dipped slightly to 2,904 deaths. However, in 2021 and 2022, the number of pedestrian deaths in the first six months exploded.

In 2021, it hit 3,266, and in 2022, it hit 3,434. That’s an increase of 18% from 2019 to 2022. Since these fatality numbers are just for the first six months of the year, the total fatality numbers for the whole year are going to be much higher.

That said, there was a difference in fatality rates based on the state. In general, northern states had a lower rate, while southern and western states had a higher rate.

Arizona had the third-highest pedestrian fatality rate as it had 1.62 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people. New Mexico was in second place, but it had a far higher death rate than Arizona, as New Mexico had 1.94 pedestrian deaths per 100,000.

The state that’s the deadliest for pedestrians, however, was Florida. It had a death rate of 1.99 pedestrian deaths per 100,000.

A closer look at the survey and why those states may be so deadly for pedestrians

The GHSA is the Governors Highway Safety Association, and it’s getting data straight from the states themselves. Every year, the GHSA surveys the safety offices of each state. This is the same data that the NHTSA, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is using, with the key difference being that the GHSA will publish its findings earlier than the NHTSA will. 

The researchers behind the study also adjusted the data slightly to account for “historical underreporting” of pedestrian fatality data from the preliminary survey.

It’s difficult to know exactly why pedestrian fatalities have skyrocketed in the last three years, but the study does have a few solutions. Many of those solutions simply have to do with infrastructure

The best way to reduce pedestrian deaths is to separate pedestrians and cars, as that will reduce the chances of cars crashing into pedestrians.

This, in turn, is a possible explanation for why Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida have such high rates of pedestrian deaths. Those states may not have good pedestrian infrastructure, and that may lead to many cars hitting and killing pedestrians. 

Idaho is the least deadly state for pedestrian accidents

That being said, the state with the lowest pedestrian fatality rate isn’t known for its pedestrian infrastructure. Idaho has a pedestrian fatality rate of 0.31 per 100,000 people. Idaho is closely followed by other Midwest states, such as South Dakota’s rate of 0.33 per 100,000, and Minnesota’s rate of 0.33 per 100,000. 

A possible reason for Idaho’s low pedestrian fatality rate may have to do with the state not having many pedestrians to begin with. After all, the GHSA study is done by simply counting up pedestrian fatalities and then dividing them by the state’s population.

Rural states like Idaho may have fewer pedestrians since everyone needs a car, and that may reduce the number of pedestrians who could get killed by cars.


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