The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just released its latest status report – On foot, at risk – and, spoiler alert: it’s not good news.
The number of people killed while walking has increased 46% since 2009, a staggering jump that is not all too shocking to anyone who has attempted to cross the street on a six-lane road, or any road with a speed limit over 30 mph. It’s scary business.
Often times, people walking get the majority of the blame for the increase. Was the person on their phone? Did they use a crosswalk? Were they wearing light-colored clothing?
The IIHS conclusion shifts that blame: It’s all about road design.
“The increase has been mostly in urban or suburban areas, at non-intersections, on arterials — busy roads designed mainly to funnel vehicle traffic toward freeways — and in the dark, a new IIHS study shows. Crashes were increasingly likely to involve SUVs and high-horsepower vehicles.”
According to IIHS President, David Harkey, “…improvements in road design, vehicle design and lighting and speed limit enforcement all have a role to play in addressing the issue.”
“When people are forced to walk long distances to the nearest signalized intersection, they are more likely to choose the riskier option of sprinting across multiple lanes of traffic,” Harkey says. “Communities can improve safety by providing more options to safely cross.”
Harkey encourages changes to road design directly, calling for road diets, safer roads with curb extensions and median islands and more crosswalks. He also suggests lower speed limits and more speed cameras to enforce existing rules.
Treehugger sums the report up best:
- We have more people out there walking and cycling;
- Roads that are designed so that people can drive fast, without enough safe crosswalks that might inconvenience drivers;
- Cars and trucks that are more powerful and are driven faster;
- More SUVs and light trucks that are inherently deadlier by design than passenger cars.
Click here to read the full report from the IIHS.