It’s no secret that some states are home to safer drivers than others and when it comes to pedestrian safety, how does each state measure up?
Accounting for approximately one in six crash fatalities each year, pedestrian motor vehicle crash deaths have increased forty-five percent since 2009, to 5,977 deaths in 2017, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Most of these tragic incidents occur after dark, according to the United States National Security Council: whereas only 20 percent of pedestrian motor vehicle crashes take place during the day, 75 percent take place after dark (about 5 percent take place at dawn and dusk). Above all, urban areas on a Friday or Saturday night are the most common setting for these fatal crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS also reports that fatal pedestrian crashes are also more than twice as likely to involve male pedestrians as they are to involve female pedestrians. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 193,866 individuals were treated in emergency departments for injuries resulting from being hit by a car. If spread evenly across the year, over 22 pedestrians would be injured by a vehicle every hour.
Law enforcement takes the risk of pedestrian motor vehicle crash deaths very seriously, and proper driving behavior toward pedestrians in the road is strictly enforced in communities across the country. Failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian attempting to cross the street is a serious moving violation. Punishment for this offense can be severe, as far as moving violations go. The exact penalty for failing to yield to a pedestrian varies by state. Generally, though, fines in most states can be as high as $150-250 for a first offense. What’s more, a driver can still be guilty of failing to yield to a pedestrian, even if they do come to a full stop: a driver still fails to yield the right of way to a pedestrian if they come close to running the pedestrian down.
Curious to see how each state measures up when it comes to pedestrian safety, researchers at Insurify analyzed data from over 1.9 million drivers in their database against the latest fatal pedestrian crash data from the IIHS, to determine the most dangerous states for pedestrians.
To determine the most dangerous states for pedestrians, the research team at Insurify, an insurance quotes comparison website, referred to their database of over 1.9 million car insurance applications. Drivers who apply for car insurance quotes at Insurify input their driving history in the past seven years, which includes receipt of any tickets for failure to yield the right of way to a pedestrian. Fatal pedestrian motor vehicle crash data by state was collected from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). They collected data from every year, beginning in 2012 and ending with 2017, the IIHS’ most recent data. From this, Insurify’s data scientists calculated the average rate of pedestrian fatalities from a motor vehicle crash per state. Then, they generated a composite score for each state. The 10 states with the highest score were selected as the most dangerous states for pedestrians in the nation. Data on nonfatal pedestrian injuries resulting from a motor vehicle crash was not used in this study, as state-by-state data was unavailable.
Insurify’s data scientists chose not to rely on one data set or the other to create their scoring system. Other studies take only fatal pedestrian crashes into account when determining the most dangerous states for pedestrians, but using this data alone does not paint the most accurate picture. Statistically, failure to yield violations occur more than thirty times more frequently than pedestrian deaths by motor vehicle crash. Whereas fatal pedestrian motor vehicle crashes may be the result of a tragic combination of circumstances, failure to yield to a pedestrian may be indicative of systemic trends in driver attitudes or patterns of behavior. Understanding these rates can give a better idea of what kind of driver behavior to expect on the roads.
Rhode Island makes our list as the tenth most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians. This state may be the smallest (at least in terms of size), but it certainly doesn’t have the lowest number of safety risks to pedestrians when it comes to driver behavior. With a failure to yield rate that is over 61 percent greater than the national mean, crossing the street in this state is significantly more dangerous on average.
Home to nearly twice as many drivers with a failure to yield to a pedestrian on their record, Idaho comes in ninth place in our ranking. We were surprised to see how few pedestrian deaths by motor vehicle crash there were, compared to failures to yield. That said, you’re almost twice as likely to encounter a driver who has failed to yield to a pedestrian in the past.
The Green Mountain State is home to nearly twice as many drivers who have failed to yield to a pedestrian. However, pedestrian deaths in Vermont are much less frequent (although fluctuations do occur year to year). One explanation could be that Vermont law requires pedestrians to cross the road with enough room to stop; not doing so can incur a fine. Perhaps pedestrians exercise more caution in Vermont than in other states and therefore are more likely to avoid an accident.
Compared to the national average, Utah drivers are almost twice as likely to have failed to yield to a pedestrian. Given this, it would behoove pedestrians in The Beehive State to stay particularly vigilant when crossing the road – even if the rates of pedestrian deaths by motor vehicle crash are lower than average.
In the state with the most casinos, crossing the road can be a gamble in and of itself. With high rates of drivers failing to yield a pedestrian the right of way, and with pedestrian deaths by motor vehicle crash over 1.5 times the national average, it’s best not to leave things up to chance. Taking proactive measures when crossing the street can prevent tragedy from striking.
This year, California brings us to the top five most dangerous states for pedestrians. The Golden State ranks well above the national average for rates of drivers failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian, and for pedestrian deaths per capita. Pedestrians in California would be well-advised to add an extra dose of caution when crossing the street.
We were surprised at the comparatively low rate of pedestrian deaths by motor vehicles in Massachusetts; perhaps pedestrians in this state have been luckier than others. But with significantly more than twice as many drivers failing to yield for a pedestrian when compared to the national average, crossing the street in Massachusetts can be much riskier than in most other states.
This year Oregon is the third most dangerous state for pedestrians, with more than twice as many drivers as the national average who have failed to yield the right of way to a pedestrian. Insurify’s data scientists were not very surprised to see Oregon at the top of this list; they ran a study earlier this year and found Oregon is the sixth-worst state in the nation for failures to stop at a red light or stop sign.
It’s not all roses in The Garden State: this year New Jersey ranks second in the nation as the most dangerous state for pedestrians. With more than three times as many drivers caught failing to yield pedestrians the right of way and higher-than-average rates of pedestrian deaths by motor vehicle crash, crossing the street in New Jersey can be much riskier than in almost every other state.
This year, New York is the most dangerous state for pedestrians, according to Insurify’s careful calculations. Given New York City’s reputation for having some of the most aggressive drivers in the nation, we weren’t surprised to see such sky-high rates of drivers failing to yield pedestrians the right of way. It may be surprising that pedestrian deaths by motor vehicle crash are above average, but much less so than driver failures to yield. However, given New York’s population of over 19 million people, it makes up a significant proportion of pedestrian deaths by motor vehicle in the nation by sheer numbers.
Insurify would like to recognize Iowa as the safest state for pedestrians this year. With incredibly low rates of fatal pedestrian crashes and even lower failure to yield rates, Iowa is home to drivers who tend to be much more conscientious than average towards their fellow citizens—and it shows. Congratulations, Iowa!
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