Urban walking is experiencing a renaissance. The Governors Highway Safety Association has done an informative study on pedestrian traffic fatalities. According to sources in that report, there has been a 21 percent increase in the number of people who reported walking to work in 2014 over 2005. Nearly a million more people reported walking or biking to work in 2013 than in 2005.
Walking is the oldest method of transportation; it is fun and healthy. Unfortunately, urban walking can be dangerous. Pedestrian fatalities have seen a 19% increase between 2009 and 2014. Perhaps all the safety enhancements on newer cars explain why traffic deaths decreased by 4% during that same span of time when pedestrian deaths increased by 19%.
Obviously, we can follow all the rules and be alert to potential dangers but still get run over by a driver who is distracted or impaired. However, we can make walking considerably safer if we are alert to or avoid high-risk situations. The most dangerous of urban walking activities is jay walking, which was a factor in 77% of the fatalities. That tells us we are dramatically safer if we cross at intersections and crosswalks.
The second most hazardous activity was walking at night. It was after dark when 72% of the walkers were killed. If you are walking in an urban area at night be sure to wear something that will enhance your visibility and whenever possible stay in well-lit areas.
Finally, just as it is not safe to drive when you are distracted or impaired, in 34% of the pedestrian fatalities the walker had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or greater.