Deadliest cities for pedestrians
A car driving along the oceanfront in Fort Lauderdale.
In 2022, U.S. pedestrian fatalities are projected to reach their highest level in 40 years, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Last year, drivers struck and killed an estimated 7,485 people, which amounts to an average of 20 deaths daily.
Cities aren’t created equal when it comes to pedestrian safety. MoneyGeek analyzed traffic fatality data collected from 2017 through 2020 for 305 cities across the country to find the most dangerous cities for pedestrians. Here’s what we found.
- Vehicle-related pedestrian deaths increased 7% from 2017 to 2020, with 6,540 pedestrian fatalities in 2020.
- Fort Lauderdale is the deadliest city for pedestrians, experiencing an average of 7.7 vehicle-related pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents yearly. There, approximately 39% of all car accident fatalities are pedestrian fatalities.
- Fargo, North Dakota, Pearland, Texas, and Clovis, California, tied for the safest cities for pedestrians, each averaging 0.20 annual pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents.
- 8 of the 20 deadliest cities for pedestrians are located in Florida and California.
Most and least dangerous cities for pedestrians in 2022
Table showing a list of top 10 cities for vehicle-related pedestrian mortalities.
MoneyGeek analyzed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System data from 2017 through 2020 for 305 cities to determine the safest and most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the U.S. Cities were ranked in order of highest overall pedestrian death rates per 100,000 residents to lowest, and only included cities with populations of 100,000 or more in their ranking.
Most Dangerous Cities for Pedestrians
Some cities, like Memphis, Tennessee, had more vehicle-related pedestrian fatalities in four years of data (164 deaths) than Fort Lauderdale, Florida (56 deaths), which ranks as the most dangerous city for pedestrians. Why is that?
In this study, MoneyGeek broke down the average annual pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents. Memphis’ population in 2020 was 650,910. Fort Lauderdale’s was only 181,818. You’d expect more deaths in a city like Memphis than in Fort Lauderdale, which is the case. Still, Fort Lauderdale is statistically a more dangerous city for pedestrians.
Memphis ranked No. 4 on MoneyGeek’s most dangerous cities for pedestrians list. In between Fort Lauderdale and Memphis are Little Rock, Arkansas, at No. 2 and Jackson, Mississippi, at No.3. In fifth place is West Palm Beach, Florida, with 30 deaths from 2017 to 2020 — this is significant, given its relatively small population of 111,006.
Safest Cities for Pedestrians
We found that Fargo, North Dakota, Pearland, Texas, and Clovis, California, tied for the safest cities for pedestrians, each with 0.20 annual pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents.
Among the safest cities, Santa Clarita, California (No.11), Irvine, California (No.12), and Gilbert, Arizona (No.18), all have populations of 200,000 or more.
Safe cities for pedestrians seem to be scattered throughout the U.S.; five of the safest cities are located in California, four in Texas, two in Indiana, and one in North Dakota, North Carolina, Washington, Massachusetts, Utah, New Hampshire, Illinois, Arizona, and Colorado.
Staying safe as a pedestrian and driver
Safety tips infographic.
Pedestrians can take some relatively simple, practical steps to stay safe on sidewalks and roadways. MoneyGeek outlined a few of the most impactful potential steps below.
While there are some steps pedestrians can take to protect themselves, it’s crucial that drivers also take responsibility for keeping pedestrians safe.
When you’re driving, always keep your eyes on the road. According to the United States Department of Transportation, distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2020. It’s imperative that people don’t find themselves becoming distracted drivers by texting, fiddling with their stereo or struggling with their navigation system while behind the wheel.
Your Responsibilities as a Driver
While there are some steps pedestrians can take to protect themselves, it’s crucial that drivers also take responsibility for keeping pedestrians safe. When you’re driving, the advice is straightforward: always keep your eyes on the road, obey the speed limits, and don’t drive under the influence.
It’s always safer to travel at slower speeds, especially in areas with pedestrian traffic. Lower speeds give drivers a better chance of avoiding pedestrians altogether. When it comes to surviving an accident, our analysis of pedestrian accident survival rates found that every 10 mph faster a car is traveling doubles the chance of death for a pedestrian.
Hitting a pedestrian can result in criminal charges and loss of your license. If you are at fault, you’ll probably be sued too. Securing good car insurance coverage is important to protect you from liability in the event the worst happens.
Financially, an at-fault accident on your record can increase the cost of insurance by 57%. In the worst case, where you need auto coverage that includes an SR-22, you’ll pay even more. If you’ve never heard of SR-22, it is an additional filing from an insurer that high-risk drivers may be required to have to keep driving.
To rank the most dangerous cities for pedestrians, MoneyGeek analyzed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data from 2017 through 2020 and created an annual average for pedestrian fatalities resulting from vehicles. Using this metric, MoneyGeek calculated each city’s pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents.
MoneyGeek also analyzed the total number of vehicle-related fatalities to calculate a percentage of pedestrian fatalities to see how many pedestrian deaths constitute total vehicle-related fatalities.
This analysis only analyzes pedestrian fatalities among cities with a population of 100,000 or more.
This story originally appeared on MoneyGeek and has been independently reviewed to meet journalistic standards.