YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Every year, more than 4,600 people are killed from being hit by a car while walking.
A recent report “Dangerous by Design” by the National Complete Streets Coalition, says 13 people are killed every day from being hit by a vehicle. Older adults and people of color are most often the victims.
The state of Ohio ranks 27th nationally for pedestrian deaths. Just under 1,000 pedestrian deaths were reported from 2005 through 2014.
The report blames poor street design as a reason for so many deaths. Many deaths occur on streets with fast-moving cars and poor pedestrian infrastructure, and lower-income communities tend to have more fatalities.
“People of color and older disproportionately represented in pedestrian deaths. For instance, non-whites, including Hispanics, account for 34.9 percent of the national population, but 46.1 percent of pedestrian deaths,” said Emiko Atherton of the National Complete Streets Coalition.
According to the report, more than 50 percent of pedestrian deaths happened on arterial roadways, typically designed to be wide and fast. Roads like these are built to move cars and too often do not meet the needs of pedestrian or bicyclist safety. More than 40 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred where no crosswalk was available.
Youngstown councilwoman Anita Davis says one of the biggest problems she has seen in the city is that some people just don’t use the sidewalks.
“There is no reason for people to be walking in the streets of Youngstown. I was a Youngstown officer and that is one of the things I would say, ‘We have sidewalks, why are you walking in the street?’”
Lieutenant William Ross of the Youngstown Police Department says crosswalks are the only spot on a roadway where a pedestrian has the absolute right of way – anywhere else is jaywalking. He also pointed out that areas near bars tend to be where the most accidents happen.
Ross says pedestrian need to be aware of their surroundings and not also rely on drivers to see them.
“You can’t expect them to look out for pedestrians where they wouldn’t expect them,” Ross said.
At times it may be necessary to walk in the street, but there are safe ways to do that. Ross says to use the shoulder facing traffic and walk as far off to the side as possible. Wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight at night.
And as always, drivers need to be focused on driving and not distracted by electronics and mobile devices.