20 Most Dangerous Places in America for Pedestrians

Pedestrian-Unfriendly Cities


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Pedestrian-Unfriendly Cities

Walk at Your Own Risk

Here's a sobering statistic: between 2008 and 2017, drivers struck and killed 49,340 people who were walking on streets all across America — more than 13 people per day according to Dangerous by Design 2019, a study of pedestrian fatalities on America's roadways from Smart Growth America. While some cities are great for walking, most are built for cars, not pedestrians. "We build our roads the same way they've been built for 70 years, to prioritize high volume and high speed of cars," said Emiko Atherton, Smart Growth America's director of the National Complete Streets Coalition. Here are the 20 most dangerous metro areas, ranked from least to most treacherous, for pedestrians.

Related: 22 Cities Where You Can Live Without a Car

Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia, South Carolina

#20 Augusta-Richmond County, Georgia and South Carolina

Starting off the top 20, the Augusta-Richmond County metro area — which includes parts of both Georgia and South Carolina — was found to have 126 pedestrian deaths between 2008 and 2017. The number of deaths per 100,000 people is 2.15 and the area's 2019 Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) is 134.4. The study's PDI ranking measures how deadly it is for people to walk based on the number of pedestrians struck and killed by drivers.

Little Rock, North Little Rock, Conway, Arkansas

#19 Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Arkansas

In the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway metro area, there were 118 pedestrian fatalities between 2008 and 2017. The number of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 sits at 1.62 and the PDI is 135.

Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan

#18 Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan

One of the only non-Sunbelt states to make the top 20, there were 757 pedestrian fatalities in the Detroit metro area between 2008 and 2017. The pedestrian deaths per 100,000 is about 1.76 and the PDI is 135.4.

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Jacob Boomsma/istockphoto

#17 Albuquerque, New Mexico

New Mexico's largest city registered 213 pedestrian fatalities between 2008 and 2017. That's about 2.35 deaths per 100,00 residents. The city's PDI is 138.2.

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas

#16 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas

Dangerous by Design reported 140 pedestrian deaths in this cluster of Texas cities between 2008 and 2017. Per 100,000 residents, that's about 1.69 pedestrian deaths. The PDI is 140.8.

Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, South Carolina

#15 Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, South Carolina

The total number of pedestrian deaths here between 2008 and 2017 was 197. Per 100,000 residents, the pedestrian death statistic is 2.29, and the area's PDI is 152.7.

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida

#14 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Florida

At 1,549, this cluster of Florida cities had more pedestrian deaths between 2008 and 2017 than any other in the top 20. The pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people is 2.61 and the PDI is 153.5. A large part of the challenge along Florida roads, says Emiko Atherton of Smart Growth America, is that there are very few places for pedestrians to cross safely. The roads have what she calls super blocks. "The only place to cross is every half mile or so," she says. "Most people realistically can't do that, or don't have that time, or they might be older and that's hard for them."

Related: 16 Ways Driving Has Changed Over the Last 50 Years

Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

#13 Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama

In Birmingham, the most populous city in the state of Alabama, and neighboring Hoover, 179 pedestrians were killed between 2008 and 2017. The number of deaths per 100,000 is 1.57 and the area's PDI is 157.

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Baton Rouge, Louisiana

#12 Baton Rouge, Louisiana

There were 182 pedestrian deaths in Baton Rouge, Louisiana between 2008 and 2017. Pedestrian deaths per 100,000 for the capital of Louisiana is 2.21 and the PDI is 157.9.

Memphis, Tennessee

#11 Memphis, Tennessee

Pedestrian fatalities in Memphis between 2008 and 2017 totaled 297. The rate of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents is 2.21 and the city's PDI is 184.2.

Jackson, Mississippi

#10 Jackson, Mississippi

There were 111 pedestrian fatalities between 2008 and 2017 in Jackson. The number of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 is 1.92 and the city's PDI is 192. As Emiko Atherton of Smart Growth America notes, the top 10 states in the report are all in the Sunbelt or the southern tier of states across the country. These are places where a great deal of growth and development took place during the WWII-era and the predominant design in such states is roads paired with super blocks, where safe crossing intersections are found about every half-mile.

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida

#9 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida

Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater are all incredibly popular Florida cities, home to beautiful beaches and many popular tourist attractions. But with the region's popularity comes a staggering number of pedestrian fatalities. Between 2008 and 2017 there were 900 pedestrian deaths.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida

#8 Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida

Yet another Florida region in the top 10 of the Dangerous by Design ranking, the Cape Coral and Fort Myers area had 148 pedestrian deaths between 2008 and 2017. The number of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 is 2.17. The PDI is 217.

Bakersfield, California

#7 Bakersfield, California

The state of California suffers from the same problem as Florida, says Emik Atherton of Smart Growth America. The state often has wide, flat roads and sprawling land-use development in many places. In Bakersfield, a city north of Los Angeles, there were 247 pedestrian fatalities between 2008 and 2017. The city's pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 is 2.83 and the PDI is 217.7.

Jacksonville, Florida

#6 Jacksonville, Florida

In Jacksonville, there were 419 pedestrian fatalities between 2008 and 2017. The number of fatalities per 100,000 is 2.94 and the PDI is 226.2.

Related: 25 States With the Worst Drivers

Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida

#5 Lakeland-Winter Haven, Florida

There were 162 pedestrian deaths in the Lakeland and Winter Haven region between 2008 and 2017. The average pedestrian deaths per 100,000 here is 162. The Lakeland area's PDI is 230.8.

North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida

#4 North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida

A region that reported 194 pedestrian fatalities between 2008 and 2017, the average pedestrian death per 100,000 is 2.58. The PDI for the North Port area is 234.6. The state's road design, which aims to move cars quickly, often means that when pedestrians are hit, it is by a car that is driving fast. "When someone is stuck and killed, that car is driving 50 miles an hour," says Emiko Atherton of Smart Growth America. "It's the perfect storm."

Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida

#3 Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida

In the Palm Bay area there were 165 pedestrian fatalities between 2008 and 2017. The average pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people was 2.94 and the 2019 Pedestrian Danger Index is 245.

Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

#1 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida

Florida's popular Orlando area, home to Disney World and other amusement parks, is also the most dangerous place in the nation for pedestrians, according to Smart Growth America. There were 656 pedestrian deaths between 2008 and 2017. The region's 2019 PDI is 313.3. The Orlando area has the highest PDI in the study.

It's no coincidence that another Florida metro area is at the number one spot and the top six most dangerous metropolitan areas in the nation for pedestrians are all in Florida. "Florida really epitomizes the combination of fast, wide, flat roads, paired with sprawling land-use development," says Emiko Atherton of Smart Growth America. She says that across America many streets are designed to be flat and wide, with no visual obstructions and very few curves, all of which is meant to move cars at high speeds. Unfortunately, it's not ideal for the safety of pedestrians trying to cross a road.

By the Numbers

By the Numbers

The Dangerous by Design report notes that as a nation, we're not necessarily walking more than we used to. What's more, we're only driving slightly more than we were back in 2008. Yet even as driving has apparently gotten safer between 2008 and 2017, significantly more people walking were struck and killed, according to Dangerous by Design. There was a 35% increase in pedestrian deaths nationwide during that time frame. Meanwhile walking, as a share of all trips, increased less than 1%. Ironically, traffic deaths among motor vehicle occupants decreased 6.1%.

The Problem

The Problem

According to Dangerous by Design, the problem is that streets across the country, which are designed for the movement of vehicles, have not changed to accomodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and others. "In fact, we are continuing to design streets that are dangerous for all people," states the report. "Federal and state policies, standards, and funding mechanisms still produce roads that prioritize high speeds for cars over safety for all people.

pedestrian traffic walk light on New York City street

The Solution

To reverse the trend in pedestrian fatalities, implementing traffic-calming measures and designing streets to be inclusive of all users so that no matter how one chooses to travel would be a step in the right direction, says Emiko Atherton of Smart Growth America. "We always tell people that both the maddening thing and the good news is that we have solutions. But we need to demand they get implemented," she says. "We know how to solve problems but we are choosing not to. Communities can access and implement tools to make your life, your children's life, and your parents' lives safer."