Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler

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North Carolina pedestrian fatalities: How do they compare?

With the exception of highways, everywhere there are cars you are bound to find pedestrians. In the event of an accident, those on foot can suffer much more severe injuries than those in vehicles. And all too often, pedestrian injuries can become fatal.

An average of 13 people a day were struck and killed while walking in 2014, a total of 4,884. How does North Carolina and Charlotte compare to national statistics? And what needs to be done to reduce or eliminate pedestrian fatalities?

An advocacy group named Smart Growth America (SGA) released a report on pedestrian fatalities called Dangerous by Design 2016. Now in its fourth edition, the report examines and ranks fatal pedestrian accidents in each state and 104 of the largest metro areas in the country. 

How do we measure up? North Carolina is the 11th most dangerous city for pedestrians, with 1.73 deaths per 100,000 people. By comparison, the national average is lower, at 1.47. The Charlotte metro area ranks at number 33, with 1.38 fatalities per 100,000 people. The national average for the 104 metro areas is 1.51.

SGA's report concludes that the most prominent factor in pedestrian deaths is street design. "Many of these deaths occur on streets with fast-moving cars and poor pedestrian infrastructure," SGA states. "People walk along these roads despite the clear safety risks -- a sign that streets are not adequately serving everyone in the community."

As for what can be done to improve pedestrian safety, SGA says that policy makers at the local, state and national level need to take action. The report highlights areas of focus and steps to take to make improvements happen.

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