Jun 28, 2023 - Transit

Arizona had nation's second-highest rate of pedestrian fatalities in 2022

Pedestrian traffic fatality rate, 2022
Data: Governors Highway Safety Association; Map: Axios Visuals

Arizona was the second-worst state for pedestrian deaths last year, according to a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

By the numbers: In 2022, 307 people were killed after being struck by vehicles.

  • That equaled a rate of 4.17 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people, second only to New Mexico's 4.4 per 100,000.
  • Phoenix's streets are so dangerous for pedestrians that a PBS International documentary last year highlighted the problem.

Zoom out: Pedestrian deaths rose last year both in Arizona and the nation.

  • Arizona's total increased in each of the past four years — 220 in 2019, 235 in 2020 and 260 in 2021.
  • Only seven states saw a bigger percentage increase in pedestrian deaths from 2021 to 2022.
  • The 7,508 killed in accidents nationwide last year was the most since 1981.

Between the lines: The study suggested slower speeds on major arterial, or feeder, roads could go a long way toward reducing pedestrian deaths, Axios' Joann Muller reports.

  • Fast-moving roads alongside busy retail and service areas with lots of foot traffic are the biggest danger zones for pedestrians nationwide.
  • In urban areas, such arterial roadways make up about 15% of all roads but account for 67% of pedestrian deaths, according to a report from StreetLight Data, which tracks mobility trends using anonymized cell phone data and other sources.
Data: StreetLight Data; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: StreetLight Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Another bad metric: StreetLight Data's "safe speed index" ranked America's 30 most populous cities based on the percentage of pedestrian roadways — roads with more than 200 pedestrian trips daily — with average vehicle speeds under 25 mph.

  • Phoenix ranked last, with 65% of pedestrian-heavy major roadways averaging vehicle speeds above 35 mph, making them especially dangerous.

Watch out: According to a 2019 Arizona Republic analysis, the deadliest spots in the Valley for pedestrians included 27th Avenue north of Bethany Home Road, McDowell Road between 40th and 43rd streets, Northern Avenue near 12th Street, Seventh Avenue near Buckeye Road, and Indian School Road between Seventh and 12th streets.

What's next: The Phoenix City Council is considering a proposal from the city's streets department to lower speed limits by 5-10 mph in 12 areas.

The bottom line: Pedestrians are twice as likely to be killed in a collision when a car is traveling at 30 mph compared with 20 mph, and over five times more likely when the car is driving 40 mph, according to data from the AAA Foundation.

  • Time of day matters, too; most pedestrian deaths occur at night.
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