Cities and urban areas in southwest states are largely designed for cars, not people, putting Arizona pedestrians and bicyclists at a serious, often fatal, disadvantage. The number of pedestrians killed or injured in traffic accidents is increasing nationwide. According to the organization Transportation for America, the unusually high rate of preventable pedestrian deaths in Arizona is an “epidemic.” Hazardous roadway design may be the main problem.
While all U.S. pedestrian fatalities increased three percent between 2010 and 2011, the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured in Tucson rose from 10 in 2009 to 25 in 2011. The Transportation for America report cited other disturbing statistics:
- Arizona had 1,479 pedestrian fatalities from 2000 to 2009.
- Arizona ranks sixth in the national Pedestrian Danger Index.
- A disproportionate number of pedestrians killed are African American, Hispanic or elderly.
- 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur on roads with high speed limits (over 40 miles per hour).
Transportation for America recommends that the Arizona legislature start allocating part of their federal Highway Safety funds to make roadways safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. New roads and streets should consider the needs of those who travel by foot as well as motor vehicles, with crosswalks and bike lanes included in the initial designs. Retrofitting existing streets and roads poses a greater challenge but efforts could be made to do so, especially in areas with the worst safety records.
Until these ideas are implemented, Arizona pedestrians should be alert, especially when sharing the road with fast-moving vehicles. If you are injured by a reckless driver, speak with one of the personal injury lawyers at Begam & Marks about filing for damages.