Louisiana ranks high for pedestrian fatalities
Louisiana is among the most dangerous states in the nation for pedestrians, ranking third out of the 50 states researched, a new report released by Transportation for America shows.
Over the 10 years from 2000 to 2009, 1,040 Louisianans were killed while walking. Dangerous by Design 2011: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods), ranks America’s major metropolitan areas and states according to a Pedestrian Danger Index that measures the relative risk to pedestrians.
New Orleans ranks 18th in preventable pedestrian deaths in metro areas with a population over a million. The report presents data on pedestrian fatalities and injuries in every U.S. county including parishes in Louisiana. For the first time, this year’s report includes an online, interactive map http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign2011/map/_showing the locations where pedestrian fatalities have occurred.
According to that map, Jeff Davis Parish suffered 10 pedestrian fatalities within the nine-year span that was observed. But it seems those deaths could have been prevented.
New Orleans is a major city complete with crosswalks, signals and sidewalks across all of its streets. It’s understandable that putting so many pedestrians and drivers on the same streets can lead to accidents. But Jeff Davis Parish is mostly rural, and foot-traffic isn’t the typical form of transportation.
The majority of the 10 pedestrian fatalities that took place in this parish were on major highways, including Interstate 10. None of those roadways are equipped for pedestrians, nor should they be.
Still, the accidents do sometimes happen in residential or business areas that should be outfitted for pedestrian use.
One of the biggest contributors to this crisis is the way streets are designed. An overwhelming proportion of pedestrian fatalities occur on roads designed for speeding traffic with little concern for pedestrians, lacking safe sidewalks, crosswalks, and signals. Sadly, it is the elderly, children and minorities who are killed and injured in disproportionate numbers, due to this failure to build roads with everyone’s safety in mind.
Older Americans are twice more likely to be killed while walking than those under 65 years of age. Louisiana ranks 31st nationally for fatality rates for pedestrians over the age of 65. And sadly, in Louisiana, 88 children 15 and younger were killed from 2000 to 2007; pedestrian injury is the third leading cause of death by unintentional injury for children 15 and younger.
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