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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Tucson Ranked Third Deadliest Metro Area in Nation for People on Foot

A report recently released by Smart Grown America ranks Tucson as the third deadliest metro area in the nation for pedestrians, an alarming change from when Tucson ranked 13th just two years ago, when the last version of the report was released.

The report, Dangerous by Design 2024, is the most comprehensive of its kind in the U.S., looking at data from across the country when it comes to walking behaviors and crash trends within the public right of way. According to the report, pedestrian traffic fatalities are increasing at an alarming rate in most major cities, far outpacing the growth in population.

According to the report, there were 105 pedestrian deaths between 2013-2017 in the greater Tucson area, with an increase to 217 between 2018-2022—more than doubling over those two five-year periods. Tucson nonprofit, Living Streets Alliance, is calling on Tucson leadership to take immediate action to change this trend. “This is a crisis and we need to act now,” says Emily Yetman, Executive Director of the organization.

Studies have shown the chances of people on foot surviving a crash decrease significantly as speeds increase. A person hit by a car going 20 miles per hour is 95% likely to survive, while that number decreases to 55% for a person hit by a car going 30 miles per hour. People hit by a car going 40 miles per hour have only a 15% chance of surviving, not to mention the severe injuries they’d have to overcome and live with.

In Tucson, 80% of pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries occur on streets with speed limits of 35 MPH or more. And 90% of those fatalities and injuries occur on just 11% of Tucson’s streets. Living Streets Alliance says there are plenty of actions that can be taken immediately to change Tucson’s pedestrian fatality trend. The organization says a city-wide reduction of traffic speeds on major corridors where the majority of serious crashes and fatalities are happening is a good start. They also point to Vision Zero—a crash reduction framework that has been successful in eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries in other places—as something the City of Tucson should commit to.

“We all walk, roll or wheel at some point in our week, whether it’s crossing the street at lunchtime, getting to a bus stop or accessing a nearby park or business. Getting around on foot shouldn’t be a matter of life and death,” says Yetman, “If we make our streets safe for people walking, they’re going to become safer for everyone using them.”

Living Streets Alliance is a Tucson nonprofit organization working to transform our streets into vibrant public places that bring people together and provide safe, accessible and attractive transportation options.

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