Metro pedestrian death rate among highest in the nation

Study says walkers' toll accounts for nearly fourth of '97-'98 traffic fatalities

June 16, 2000|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,SUN STAFF

Nearly one-fourth of people killed in traffic accidents in the Baltimore are are pedestrians, a rate that is among the highest in the nation, according to a study released yesterday by a Washington-based transportation safety group.

The report by the Surface Transportation Policy Project concluded that walking along roads in the United States is 36 times more dangerous than driving.

During 1997 and 1998, the period covered by the study, 113 pedestrians in the Baltimore metropolitan area were struck by vehicles and killed. They account for 22 percent of the area's traffic fatalities compared to a national average of 13 percent.

The report ranked the Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., area as the most dangerous for pedestrians, with 192 deaths over the review period.

"Part of the reason is sprawling development that makes it inconvenient to walk," said Barbara McCann, co-author of the report.

"You have these roadways that are six lanes wide. Often there are no crosswalks at the intersections," she said. "You'll see trampled in the grass along the road a little walking path. That's certainly an indication that people are out there walking along."

Two weeks ago, Jeffrey Andrew Loiseaux, a 16-year-old film student at Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson, was struck and killed while trying to cross Reisterstown Road.

The five-lane section of road near Greenspring Valley Road has no sidewalks, and the two nearest intersections are hundreds of feet apart with no crosswalks at either light.

"There was no place this kid could walk to get across the street safely," said Dan Pontious, director of the Baltimore Regional Partnership. "Design for pedestrians in this region is atrocious. This accident makes the point tragically."

The same problems are evident nationwide. In 59 percent of the cases reviewed, pedestrians died in places where there were no crosswalks. For every pedestrian killed by a vehicle, 14 others are injured.

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