Special Report

The 10 Most Dangerous States for Pedestrians

4. Louisiana
> Pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people: 2.56
> Total pedestrian fatalities: 118 (13th highest)
> Total traffic fatalities: 722 (19th highest)

The rate of pedestrian fatalities in Louisiana rose by 57% between 2010 and 2012, from 1.63 fatalities per 100,000 residents to 2.56, well above the 1.51 fatalities per 100,000 residents nationwide. Pedestrian fatalities accounted for 10.4% of total traffic fatalities in 2010, nearly three percentage points below the national share of pedestrian fatalities. By 2012, pedestrian fatalities accounted for 16.3% of total fatalities, exceeding the national rate by more than two percentage points. Like several of the most dangerous states for pedestrians, Louisiana residents are relatively poor, which may reflect an area’s ability to invest in safe road infrastructure.

3. South Carolina
> Pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people: 2.60
> Total pedestrian fatalities: 123 (11th highest)
> Total traffic fatalities: 863 (13th highest)

There were 18.3 traffic-related deaths per 100,000 South Carolina residents in 2012, among the highest fatality rates in the nation. By contrast, 10.7 people per 100,000 Americans died in traffic accidents. Like most dangerous states for pedestrians, a relatively high proportion of South Carolina’s workforce — 41% — spent between 15 minutes to 30 minutes commuting to work, perhaps increasing the likelihood of traffic accidents. While the South Carolina Department of Public Safety reported a downward trend in traffic accidents, the state’s pedestrian fatality rate has been on the rise. Between 2010 and 2012, 34.0% more pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents per 100,000 residents, substantially larger than the national growth.

2. New Mexico
> Pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people: 2.92
> Total pedestrian fatalities: 61 (24th highest)
> Total traffic fatalities: 365 (20th lowest)

New Mexico had 2.92 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents in 2012, an 82.5% increase from two years earlier. The share of pedestrian deaths out of total traffic fatalities also increased to 16.7% from 11.6% a year earlier, more than two percentage points above the national share. According to Walk Score, New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque, was very car-dependent. New Mexico also had one of the highest rates of traffic fatalities per 100,000 licensed drivers in the country, perhaps indicating that driving in New Mexico is particularly dangerous. As Archuleta explained, poorer areas in New Mexico may have difficulty finding resources for pedestrian infrastructure, which likely has an impact on road safety. A typical household in New Mexico earned just $42,558 in 2012, less than all but a handful of states.

1. Delaware
> Pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people: 2.94
> Total pedestrian fatalities: 27 (15th lowest)
> Total traffic fatalities: 114 (5th lowest)

Nowhere in America was it more dangerous to cross the street than in Delaware, where nearly three pedestrians died in traffic accidents per 100,000 residents in 2012. While Delaware led the nation in pedestrian fatalities in 2012, the chance of being killed walking in the state has fluctuated considerably. There were just 27 pedestrian fatalities in 2012, so a slight change in the number of major accidents, or a particularly safe year, will have a large impact on the state’s fatality rate. Unsurprisingly, the pedestrian death rate fell by nearly 20% in 2010, but spiked by nearly 50% the following year. Nevertheless, pedestrians seem to be more especially vulnerable in Delaware. A pedestrian was the victim of nearly one in every five fatal traffic-related accidents, a greater proportion than in all but two other states.