Death toll for pedestrians rises in large metro cities due to unsafe roads

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By Whitney Meager

In the past 10 years, more than 47,000 pedestrians have been killed in the United States, with more than 688,000 being injured, according to Transportation for America.

Within a 60-mile radius of Provo, from 2000 through 2009 there were upward of 50 pedestrian deaths. The top cities with the highest rate of pedestrian accidents and deaths are found in Florida, Nevada and California.

Jessica Moore, Orem resident of three years and six-year resident of Las Vegas, said most pedestrian accidents are caused because pedestrians think they own the road, especially on the strip.

“In Vegas a lot of tourists get hit probably because they don’t cross when they are supposed to,” Moore said. ” I would see people all of the time getting nicked by cars because they would run across the street when it wasn’t their turn to cross.”

Moore said that even though pedestrians can be to blame, so can drivers, especially when they hit and run.

“My ex-boyfriend worked at a Costco in Vegas,” Moore said. “One night he was pushing carts and a car backed into him and then drove off. It left a giant bruise on his leg but overall he was OK. I think it’s careless drivers like that who seriously injure people.”

Nathan Baier, 24, six-year resident of Provo, has been almost hit multiple times around Provo.

“It was really crazy because I expected the car to stop and it didn’t,” Baier said of one close call. “Even though I was in the crosswalk, the driver just ignored me, and it was daytime too. One night a giant truck bumped into me just in front of Campus Plaza, and just drove off.  Walking down here is dangerous, you gotta watch your back.”

While most pedestrian fatalities and injuries are labeled accidents, many of them are due to unsafe arterial roadways. Many streets are designed for fast vehicles, not for people walking, running or in wheelchairs.

Rachel Morrison, 21, studying sociology, was hit by a car while doing a semester at BYU Hawaii.

“I was working at a movie theater and got off about 11 p.m. and started biking home,” Morrison said. “I made sure to take all the back roads to avoid cars but had to cross one street that was busy during the day, though not necessarily at night. A drunk man drove right into me, smashing the front wheel of my bike. A policeman happened to be driving by and called an ambulance. I didn’t have any sustained injuries, just some bruises and I was really sore. I think the driver got fined but I am not sure.”

Although most pedestrian safety is perceived as a local issue, Transportation for America said studies show 67 percent of the 47,000 deaths were on federal roads.

The Transportation for America website has an interactive map that shows pedestrian death tolls across the United States, helping raise awareness of the dangerous areas for local pedestrians.

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