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Driverless Car Death Highlights Another Issue: AZ Dangerous for Pedestrians

Arizona is the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians. (mrhayata/Flickr)
Arizona is the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians. (mrhayata/Flickr)
April 2, 2018

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Arizona's recent self-driving Uber fatality highlights another problem: the state is a dangerous place to walk.

Arizona has the most pedestrian fatalities per capita of any U.S. state, according to a recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. Arizona State University assistant professor of Urban Planning Deborah Salon researches transportation in cities.

"Traffic speeds are just the big key,” she says. “If you're a pedestrian and you get hit and the traffic speed is above 25 miles per hour and certainly above 30 miles per hour, you're very likely to have extremely serious injuries or be killed."

Arizona pedestrians are killed nearly twice as often as the national average, according to the report's data.

The Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety used grant funding in 2017 to crack down on speeders and promote more safety education for pedestrians. But Salon says the way cities are designed has consequences, and urban streets should feel less like highways.

"These are the things that I think have to be considered if we're serious about improving our safety rate."

Salon says lowering speed limits and designing roads with narrower lanes could make Arizona's streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - AZ