Minority Pedestrians more Likely than Whites to be Hit by Cars

Thursday, May 22, 2014
(photo: Hartford Advocate)

The United States is reportedly experiencing an “epidemic” of pedestrians being hit and killed by automobiles, with minorities suffering proportionally more of these fatalities than whites.


The National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, says in a new study (pdf) that 47,025 people were killed by cars between 2003 and 2012, for an average of one person every eight minutes. That total is 16 times greater than the number of those killed in natural disasters during the same period.


Pedestrian deaths as a proportion of overall traffic deaths have gone up since 2009, reaching almost 15% of all traffic fatalities in the country by 2012.


But the most startling statistics were those involving minorities, the report showed. Death rates for blacks were 60% higher than Caucasians (non-Hispanic), while fatality rates for Hispanics were 43% higher than whites. In some states the disparities were much higher.


Members of South Carolina’s Hispanic population were 189% more likely than whites to be killed as pedestrians. In Wisconsin, African Americans were 145% more likely than whites to be killed.


 “Low-income people of color are hit hardest because they are the ones who are least considered in issues of community safety,” Barbara Lott-Holland, co-chair of the Los Angeles Bus Riders Union, told Common Dreams. “Our society looks at this class as disposable and not having a voice, but we do.”


According to the study, the racial disparities are because more people of color walk to work, live in urban areas or live in suburban areas near dangerous roads.


The report also showed young people and the elderly are also vulnerable to high rates of pedestrian fatalities. People over 65 made up 21% of all such deaths, even though they represent only 12.6% of the U.S. population. Among those 15 and younger, pedestrian fatalities were the third leading cause of death, the study found.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Nationwide ‘Epidemic’ Of Pedestrian Deaths a Failure of Social Justice: Report (by Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams)

Dangerous by Design 2014 (Smart Growth America and National Complete Streets Coalition) (pdf)

Don’t Walk! Orlando Most Dangerous City for Pedestrians (Boston Safest) (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


laurak 8 years ago
“Low-income people of color are hit hardest because they are the ones who are least considered in issues of community safety... Our society looks at this class as disposable...” Are you kidding me?! What an absolutely ridiculous statement! What is that even supposed to mean? People purposely run over non-whites because they consider their safety less than others? How does this even make sense? How about, these people are careless and don't watch where they are going, and that's why they are hit. Some act so entitled that they will step right out in front of me when i'm driving and expect me to slam on my brakes. Others are just too stupid to look both ways before crossing the street.

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