Connecticut ranks #27 out of 50 states in pedestrian safety, according to a new report from the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America. There were 351 Connecticut residents killed while walking during the decade from 2003 – 2012, data included in Dangerous by Design 2014, indicates. That represents 12.6 percent of the 2,780 traffic-related fatalities in the state during this period. The report ranks each state and the nation’s major metropolitan areas according to a Pedestrian Danger Index that assesses how safe pedestrians are while walking.
Among metropolitan areas, Hartford-East Hartford-West Hartford ranked #38 in the U.S. among the 50 with the highest “pedestrian danger index,” and at #37 in the percentage of traffic fatalities that were pedestrians.
The report also presents data on pedestrian fatalities and injuries by county and includes an online, interactive map showing the locations where people walking have been fatally struck by the driver of a vehicle. The report found that the majority of pedestrian deaths likely could have been prevented with safer street design.
The majority of pedestrian deaths occur on roadways that are dangerous by design — engineered and operated for speeding traffic with little to no provision for the safety of people walking, biking or using public transit.
This week, Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law a vulnerable user bill, which increases penalties on reckless drivers who injure or kill pedestrians, cyclists and other roadway users.
“Although Connecticut is home to many high-speed arterial roadways with little in the way of pedestrian accommodations, there are signs of progress," said Joseph Cutrufo, Connecticut Advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. "We’re optimistic that the passage of this law, which advocates have supported for over four years, will have a positive impact on the safety of Connecticut’s roads.”
In Connecticut from 2003 – 2010, the average pedestrian death rate for non-Hispanic whites was 1.34, while the rate for Hispanics was 1.42 and 1.49 for African-Americans.
In addition, while comprising just 13.8 percent of the total population, older adults over the age of 65 years old accounted for more than 28 percent of pedestrian fatalities between 2003 and 2010 and a pedestrian fatality rate of 2.76 in Connecticut. The worst state pedestrian fatality rates (per 100,000 persons aged 65 and older) are in Hawaii, California, New York, District of Columbia, Florida, Nevada, New Jersey Utah and Idaho.
“Older persons account for one in every five pedestrian fatalities and have the greatest fatality rate of any population group,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond. “America’s state, federal and community leaders should focus on making our streets safer – which will benefit everyone, including the growing number of older Americans.”
During the decade, 35.2 percent of pedestrian deaths occurred on roadways with a speed limit of 40 mph or higher. 36.6 percent were on streets with a posted speed limit under 30 mph and just 0.3 percent of pedestrians died on streets with a speed limit of 20 mph or lower.
In New Haven-Milford, 15 percent of traffic deaths were pedestrians; in Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk the percentage was 14.4 percent, in Hartford-West Hartford–East Hartford, 12.9 percent, and in Norwich – New London, 11.5 percent.