A national study from the University of Michigan released new research on pedestrian and biker fatality rates. Unsurprisingly, big cities saw more of both. The size of the gap may surprise some, however.
Fatal vehicle crashes in Los Angeles are three times more likely to involve a pedestrian accident than the national average. Nationally, 11.4 percent of fatal crashes kill a pedestrian. This means that around one in three deadly wrecks here in the Los Angeles area results in a pedestrian fatality.
This figure puts Los Angeles in second place right behind New York City. New York's pedestrian fatality rate is much higher, however. Half of all traffic fatalities there are pedestrians.
Bikers are also at increased risk in Los Angeles. Bikers account for 3 percent of Los Angeles deaths, compared with only 1.7 percent in the rest of the country.
The explanation for this large gap may lie in the inherent characteristics of big cities. One of the researchers described the problem as "a matter of exposure." Simply put, more people walk near cars in crowded urban areas. When pedestrians are cars come together, the accident rates go up.
Other statistics figured in the research as well. Men are more likely to die in a fatal traffic accident in Los Angeles, accounting for 62.3 percent instead of the national average of 57.6 percent. Somewhat surprisingly, only 25.4 percent of accidents occur at night. Finally, 66.5 percent of all fatal Los Angeles crashes occur at speeds of 35 mph or less.
While it is somewhat unsurprising that big cities see higher rates of pedestrian deaths, this study is a big reminder to Los Angeles residents to be careful when crossing streets or walking near heavy traffic.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "L.A. drivers kill more pedestrians, bicyclists than national average," Jerry Hirsch, Oct. 3, 2012