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The most dangerous cities for pedestrians

Crossing the street in Florida? Look both ways -- and then do it again.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 8, 2011 9:41AM

This post comes from Emmet Pierce at partner site


The four most dangerous places to walk in America are in Florida.


Transportation for America just released the 2011 edition of its "Dangerous by Design" report, which calculated the Pedestrian Danger Index in metro areas around the country. Of course, cities where people walk more have more pedestrian deaths, so the index plots the number of pedestrians who die against the number of people who walk.


The result is very bad news for Sun Belt pedestrians.


Of the 20 most dangerous places to walk, only one -- Detroit -- is north of the Mason-Dixon Line.


The organization notes that the death rate per 100,000 population in the U.S. is 1.6, much higher than that in similarly wide-open countries such as Canada (1.1) and Australia (0.9). Much of the blame lies in the way cities -- especially those in the South -- have avoided the kind of infrastructure improvements that make streets safer for walking.


What kinds of streets are worst for pedestrians? The kinds every suburbanite has come to know very well: multiple lanes of high-speed traffic, lined with parking lots and drive-throughs, and short on sidewalks and crosswalks.


The group points out that the data, gathered from 2000 to 2009, show that senior citizens are especially vulnerable, dying at twice the rate of those under age 65.


Who gets hit by cars?

About 12% of motor vehicle crash deaths each year involve pedestrians, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute.


If it seems that most of the pedestrians you observe taking risks in traffic are male, you are right, according to IIHS.


Pedestrians were almost always judged to be at fault in midblock and "intersection dash" accidents, in which pedestrians enter the path of traffic, according to a 2002 study of pedestrian deaths in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. People on foot were judged to be at fault 50% of the time compared with 39% for drivers.


Drivers are usually at fault in crashes where vehicles turned, backed up or went off the road. Post continues after video.

Here's how to avoid getting hit by cars when you're walking:

  • Wait and look. Always wait for the traffic signal to turn green before crossing the street, and even then, look around. "Every pedestrian who is hit by a car never saw the car coming," says Thomas J. Simeone, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who represents accident victims. "That's why they entered the roadway."
  • Dress to be seen. The crosswalk may not be the right place to make a fashion statement, but the clothing you choose can make a difference to your safety, says Stephanie Schwartz, the owner of Roadrunner Traffic School in Arizona. "Pedestrians can always help ensure their own safety by wearing lighter colors," she says.
  • Don't wander into the street while walking next to the road. Use sidewalks whenever possible. If there are no sidewalks, it's usually better to walk facing oncoming traffic. Also, stay away from freeways and restricted areas.
  • Don't cross the road at a curve. Make sure you cross where approaching drivers can see you clearly.
  • Try to make eye contact with drivers before stepping onto the highway. It's a mistake to assume that drivers always see you.
  • Don't walk near traffic while tipsy. Alcohol and drugs can affect your ability to walk safely and make good judgments about traffic.

Dealing with car insurance companies

If you are hit by a car while walking, you can file a car insurance claim against the driver. Just like a car-to-car accident, you want to try to get the driver's information at the scene of the accident and make a police report.

  • Gather all evidence that supports your car insurance claim, including the names of witnesses. Then notify the driver's insurance company of your claim.
  • If you have a no-fault auto insurance policy or are making a claim for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (for a hit-and-run accident, for example), you must submit the claim to your own car insurance company.
  • If the driver's auto insurance isn't enough to compensate you, you can hire an attorney and take the matter to court. You're entitled to be "made whole" following an accident. That may include compensation for medical bills as well as pain and suffering, lost wages from work, emotional distress and property loss.

"People need to approach crossing a street as if their life depended on it, because it does," says David Snyder, vice president and associate general counsel for the American Insurance Association. "All too often we take day-to-day activities, although hazardous, lightly."


The Pedestrian Danger Index

Here are the top 10 most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians:

  1. Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla. -- 557 deaths, 255 PDI.
  2. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. -- 905 deaths, 213 PDI.
  3. Jacksonville, Fla. -- 342 deaths, 178 PDI.
  4. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla. -- 1,555 deaths, 168 PDI.
  5. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. -- 938 deaths, 139 PDI.
  6. Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev. -- 421 deaths, 135 PDI.
  7. Memphis -- 266 deaths, 133 PDI.
  8. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. -- 867 deaths, 132 PDI.
  9. Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas -- 1,024 deaths, 128 PDI.
  10. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas -- 942 deaths, 119 PDI.

You can find the list of the top 52 here.


More on and MSN Money:

Jul 16, 2011 8:45AM
I live in city #35 (Columbus, OH). I am a runner and frequently run on the sidewalks in the city. I come close to getting hit by a car nearly every time I run. I take serious precautions and try to only cross streets when I have the signal to do so. People simply do not pay attention to pedestrians. I see most of the people who come close to hitting me are on cell phones or have no clue what they almost did. I remember from Driver's Education that if a person is hit,  the driver is at fault. Unless it is one of those rare cases of people who make money this way. Why should pedestrians be given tips to avoid getting hit? Shouldn't the article tell drivers to PAY ATTENTION? Also, isn't it common sense to look both ways before crossing? Isn't that something every child is taught? Are we so self-centered as a society that the conversation on our phones, the latest text, or whatever is more important that injuring ourselves or someone else?
Jul 16, 2011 8:21AM
I live in Tampa, when 60 % of the drivers can't read English guess what happens.
Jul 16, 2011 10:03AM
Its getting really bad in the Twin Cities.  I walk for exercise, but drivers are treating walkers in a way they would never treat another car.  I have had many a near miss becuase drivers do not obey the law here where if someone is in the cross walk, the drivers are suppose to stop until the crosswalk is clear.  Instead, they are more likely to cut in front or even bear down on you.  I had one that waited till i was in fron of him, then hit the gas.  He thought it was funny.  i was in too much shock to get his license, plus i wanted to get out of his way as soon as possible.  but now i carry a pencil and paper and am prepared for the next one.  There was a incident where this occured with another walker and the walker hit the car with his fist (or object), and the driver got out and beat him up.  So i think calling in the license is the best resort.   On a lighter note, i always prep my self for the street by saying to myself, "you are going into the dark forest now, best to keep your wits about you".
Jul 16, 2011 10:47AM
Another important tip for pedestrians: "Hang up and walk."
Jul 16, 2011 8:28AM

I'm  not surprised that my hometown is number 1.  Never mind the fact that in some places there aren't any sidewalks where they need to be.  Also, some of the sidewalks are just pavement next to the road.  No curb or anything!  I guess its the thought that counts, right?!

Many motorists there have no regard for anyone but themselves.  Part of it has to do with the insulation a car provides.  Public transportation is not that good, people would much rather be in a car to go somewhere, so that means a lot of people have not really had the experience of being a pedestrian.  Day after day (as a motorist, a leisure walker, and a runner), I see drivers blocking the crosswalk, going through the intersection when walkers have the right of way, and even travelling in what is clearly marked as the bike lane!  What do you expect from a place where you take your drivers test in the parking lot?!?!


Jul 8, 2011 3:39PM
Major cause of accidents, whether pedestrian or vehicular, is stupidity.
Jul 16, 2011 3:12AM
I thought that the pedestrians have the right of way on crosswalks. I've seen many people get behind a wheel and act like the world evolves around them and their car.  
Jul 16, 2011 8:03AM
Wow, I have walked here in St. Pete for 20 years.  However, in the past 2 years I have altered my walking to include errands (not just parks).  I have worked to remain alert, but I do knoiw that this city is very bad for walking.  People have no respect for pedestrians -- too much of a rush.
Jul 16, 2011 2:15PM

I know how to cross the street safely -I was taught as a child and followed those rules from that point on. However I was still hit by a car that failed to completely stop at a stop sign and as someone who walks and rides a bike regularly, I can say that there are too many drivers out there that will take you for granted and ignore the fact that you are a human being trying to get somewhere. All they can think about is how quickly they want to get to whereever their destination is.

Heaven forbid they have to wait for a pedestrian. Even though they are in a car and can get to wherever they want to go several times faster than someone walking or on a bike!!!! Too many drivers are self-involved with no driving etiquette to speak of and not much common sense!!!!


These obtuse drivers need to educate themselves!

Jul 16, 2011 9:58AM
I moved to Ft. Lauderdale in 2007 from Atlanta, but I was born and raised in Alabama. In all my years living in those two true southern states, I have NEVER seen as many pedestrian deaths like I have here in South Florida!

I think the problem lays in the high population of elderly people who drive with no keen awareness of their surroundings, along with the some immigrants who don't know or care about the rules of the road. 

I've walked in Miami and tried crossing streets down there: Death wish! The people drive like they're trying out for the NASCAR! 

 I would strongly advise pedestrians in any city to always be mindful of traffic and NEVER take it for granted that someone will stop for you if you're jaywalking or crossing the street without adequate traffic lights/signs.
Jul 16, 2011 11:01AM
If the peds in Portland, Or lived down south the number would be doubled or tripled.  I have been told by many who travel that Oregonians are the worst peds to encounter.  
I work in a Tire Shop at Costco.  I will be backing out a full-ton truck, honk repeatedly, and people will just keep walking as if there is no doubt you have seen them and you will stop.  No regard for their own lives!  And they will give you a dirty look.  
Peds do have the right of way in all circumstances, but I would rather be alive than correct.  
Last one - In my neighborhood, people run in the 3 ft. bike lanes instead of the 5 ft sidewalk.  Need I say more?
Jul 16, 2011 9:43AM
No surprise there. I have lived all over the country, and found the drivers in Houston to be the most selfish and aggressive, by far. It is a very angry city. In San Francisco and L.A., on the other hand, pedestrians and drivers have learned to coexist much more peacefully.
Jul 16, 2011 11:57AM

I was raised to pay attention to who gets hurt the most in a collision - and act accordingly!

As a pedestrian, I am most at risk to damage - THEREFORE the responsibility is Mine to be safe!!   As at least one writer wrote - it is better to be safe and undamaged than to be dead, but have had the right of way!

Try common sense and realize cars have blind spots, pedestrians do not.

Jul 16, 2011 11:16AM
Drivers in Philadelphia will speed up if they see someone walking or jogging, as they have no mercy.  Not surprising though, as Philly was rated as the #1 unfriendliest city in the US.  Oh, that's right...the city of "Brotherly Love".
Jul 8, 2011 3:15PM


OR every bit as logical:  The article states that both of the following are true - that auto-pedestrian collisions are more likely to occur in sunbelt cities and that senior citizens make up the biggest group of involved pedestrians.  Well, most all of the top 20 sunbelt cities listed are havens for retirees.  Soooo, could it be that the REAL cause of such high pedestrian accident rates in many of the cities is just that old people are in the street when they are no longer really able to ascertain the danger?  Besides, many of the sunbelt cities listed are classically designed inner suburb-style cities where while the main cityscape may be single-family residential, the street network is a city block urban-style layout, not a post-1950s typical auto-centric layout like you find in the exurbs in places like Orange County or Northern Virginia.

Jul 16, 2011 8:29AM

But the peds do their own dirt too.  I've had a few people who just don't pay attention and walk right behind your car while you're backing up (uh, my backing lights do work and my car is noisy).  These people just got out of their cars and still think they have a bumper on their ****.  But there have been countless times that I've seen people walk with traffic when clearly there's a sidewalk on the other side.  Or walk with traffic when there isn't a sidewalk anywhere (I had to tell someone how dangerous that is, he looked at me like I had poop smeared on my forehead, but at least his death wish was now an informed one!).  Even had a couple of people cross 3 lanes in each direction of traffic only 50 feet away from a crosswalk.  At least if you're going to do that, do it at an intersection, step lively and walk predictably (read: straight) and know that cars don't have to stop for you there.  As a motorist, between someone who has no regard for their own safety and does that and myself (and whoevers in the car)...I'm going to pick myself first and I might hit you if that means lessening harm to my occupants and not causing a pile up.  I would not leave the scene, that is a foul thing to do.

Jul 16, 2011 11:39AM
love the tip #1 wait and look... lol, then move one leg at a time, make eye contact with car drivers and be sure you are wearing something visible( the best option for a pedestrian is a bright orange poncho or go to for more inspiring ideas).
How about just pay attention to what you r doing and you'll be fine tip.

Jul 16, 2011 8:30AM

I guess that was a roundabout way that I wanted to reply to a bunch of people who say that old people are mainly the culprit for us having Death Race 2000 in the O-Town. Not true!

I walk almost everyday. You know who violated the crosswalk when I had the walk signal the last time? A teen driver! A man who appeared to be his father was in the passenger seat and he nodded to me. I don't know if that gesture meant "sorry" or "excuse me, he's new" or what. In that situation (based on experience as a former teen driver with parents in car), the parent needed to look ahead, warn the teen to be mindful of pedestrians with the right of way, and let the (teen) driver make the appropriate decision. And yes, if it isn't the right move, then the parent should let them know it's wrong even if there's no incident.

Jul 16, 2011 2:47PM
stay off ur cell phones while crossing the street
Jul 16, 2011 7:43AM
Gee how did they miss Denver? I call it the hit and run capital of the world! I think they pay people like cab drivers to watch for this "hit and run"!  They must teach it in their driving schools here and in mexico. Because anytime there is an accident or a pedestrian is hurt or killed. They are always looking for the drivers or suspects involved in the incidents.
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