Arizona ranked 4th most dangerous state for pedestrians

July 14, 2022

According to a new study, Arizona is among the world’s four most dangerous states for pedestrians, and Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler is among the nation’s 22 most dangerous metros.

Based on data reported to the federal government from 2020, Smart Growth America conducted the study. 

As a result, things have gotten much more dangerous for absolutely everybody, said Beth Osborn, Smart Growth America’s Vice President of Transportation and Thriving Communities.

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Traffic fatalities up in pandemic

The study looking at the 2020 data, looked at the start of the pandemic.  Osborn said how it was believed that with fewer drivers on the roads, traffic fatalities should go down. But the opposite actually happened. 

“Without that congestion, people just went the natural speed. And that was dangerous. And it led to more natural mistakes and more deadly mistakes,” Osborn said. 

Osborn adds the United States was different than other countries across the world.

“Our peers did not get more dangerous, they saw traffic levels drop off too because they were also in a worldwide pandemic faced the issues we did: Shutdowns, stress challenges all those challenges that affected us in this country, affected our peers as well,” Osborn said. “But they got safer and we did not.” 

Safer design

Osborn believes that street design has a major impact on how drivers behave on the roads.  “(It’s) natural for the driver to behave in a way that is safe for that environment,” Osborn said.

A wide-open road, with few places drivers, are required to stop, buildings set farther back and wider lanes can make it feel more comfortable for drivers to travel faster.

“The crux of the issue is when you are driving at a higher speed, your sphere of vision is narrowed, your ability to stop quickly is taken away,” Osborn said. 

Osborn believes better design on streets will mean safer roadways. 

“Narrow that road, create more points up for stopping and crossing, put some trees in, put a median in, all those things naturally constrain the driver,” Osborn said. 

Phoenix drafting ‘Road Safety Action Plan’

The City of Phoenix is currently working on a Road Safety Action Plan to address the rise in serious and deadly wrecks. 

The draft plan includes installing medians on corridors where the most severe crashes are happening and adding better markers for mid-block crossings, like HAWK signals, among several other things. 

Osborn hopes the next study reveals more places around the country making changes to save lives. 

“I want to see things like lower speed limits and designs to match it. And we’ll see it slowly. But it needs to be the overwhelming majority of our investments,” Osborn said. 

Source: 12 news