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The most dangerous states for pedestrians: Our 2022 analysis

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pedestrian crossing sign next to a road
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Motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians are far too common. The most recent fatal pedestrian accident was the death of Dwayne Haskins, an NFL quarterback who was struck and killed while crossing a highway in South Florida. Whether you are walking or driving, being aware of pedestrians in your surroundings is imperative. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for drivers and pedestrians to make unsafe maneuvers that put themselves in danger.

For example, pedestrians don’t expect a car to run a stop sign when they are at the crosswalk. Similarly, drivers don’t expect pedestrians to walk out into busy intersections, but both happen more often than you might think.

Ultimately, drivers and pedestrians both have a shared responsibility to keep everyone safe. In this guide, we’ll share which states are the most dangerous for pedestrians and how to avoid accidents with them.

Key facts and statistics

Data shows that pedestrian accidents are on the rise, especially in urban areas. Here are some recent statistics and facts about pedestrian collisions.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) compiled the following data on pedestrian crashes:
  • In 2019, 6,205 pedestrians were killed and roughly 76,000 pedestrians were injured on U.S. roads.
  • The number of fatalities for occupants inside vehicles has decreased over the years. However, the number of non-occupant accidents, including those with pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists, has increased.
  • In 1996, the percentage of pedestrian fatalities was 20%. In 2019, that figure had increased to 34%.
  • Pedestrian fatalities are most common in urban areas. The rate of pedestrian deaths in urban areas jumped 62% between 2010-2019. In rural areas, the rate decreased by 4.8% over the same period.
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The following statistics were published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) (based on 2019 data).
  • Pedestrian deaths account for 17% of all traffic fatalities.
  • In 2019, an estimated 63% of fatal accidents involving pedestrians happened on major roads, excluding highways and interstates.
  • Nearly half of all pedestrian fatalities in 2019 happened at night, between the hours of 6 p.m. and midnight.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) compiled its own data around pedestrian accidents and fatalities:
  • In 2017, there were 5,977 pedestrians killed in vehicle collisions. That equates to roughly one death every 88 minutes.
  • For every car trip, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than drivers and vehicle occupants to be killed in a collision.
  • Based on 2017 data, 47% of pedestrian fatalities involved alcohol.
  • People 65 and older accounted for 20% of all pedestrian fatalities in 2017, as well as an estimated 10% of all pedestrian injuries.
  • In 2017, one out of every five children under age 15 that was killed in a traffic crash was a pedestrian.

Most dangerous states ranked

The number of pedestrian accidents is increasing, but some states are more dangerous than others. Whether you walk, run, ride your bike or drive, it’s important to understand where your state falls on the list. If you live in a state with a high rate of pedestrian accidents, it can help you remain vigilant on the road and the sidewalk.

To come up with these rankings, we weighted several factors from each state, including:

  • Number of car accidents
  • Number of pedestrian accidents
  • Number of uninsured drivers
  • Total DUIs (with a BAC of 0.1+)

From there, every state was given a score and the states with the highest scores were deemed the most dangerous for pedestrians.

Rank State
1 Florida
2 California
3 Tennessee
4 Alabama
5 Georgia
6 Texas
7 Arizona
8 South Carolina
9 Michigan
10 Mississippi
11 New Mexico
12 Missouri
13 Louisiana
14 North Carolina
15 Illinois
16 Ohio
17 Oklahoma
18 Arkansas
19 Maryland
20 Washington
21 Kentucky
22 Indiana
23 Colorado
24 Virginia
25 Pennsylvania
26 Oregon
27 Wisconsin
28 New York
29 Nevada
30 New Jersey
31 Hawaii
32 Delaware
33 West Virginia
34 Connecticut
35 Iowa
36 Minnesota
37 Montana
38 District of Columbia
39 Idaho
40 Kansas
41 Nebraska
42 Massachusetts
43 Rhode Island
44 Alaska
45 Wyoming
46 Utah
47 North Dakota
48 Maine
49 South Dakota
50 New Hampshire
51 Vermont

1. Florida

Florida is the most dangerous state for pedestrians and there are a few reasons why. In 2019, 713 pedestrians were killed on Florida roads, one of the highest rates nationwide. There were also 3,183 traffic fatalities overall, including both vehicle occupants and non-occupants. In addition, Florida has an extremely high number of uninsured drivers—more than 20% of drivers in Florida are uninsured even though it’s a legal requirement.

2. California

California is the most populated state and it has many urban areas with a high traffic volume. In 2019, there were 972 pedestrians killed in California, the most of any state. California also has a high number of fatal traffic accidents and crashes involving alcohol. According to 2019 data, 966 people were killed in accidents involving alcohol where the driver’s BAC was over .08 (the legal limit).

3. Tennessee

149 pedestrians were killed on Tennessee roadways in 2019, making it the third most dangerous state for pedestrians. The state also has a high number of fatal car accidents. In 2019, there were 1,135 traffic fatalities in Tennessee, an increase of 9% from the year prior. And like many of the most dangerous states for pedestrians, Tennessee also has a very high number of uninsured drivers. As of 2019, almost 24% of drivers in the state did not have car insurance.

4. Alabama

In 2019, 119 pedestrians were killed in Alabama. Although Alabama has fewer fatal pedestrian accidents than some of the other most dangerous states, it has a large number of uninsured drivers for its population size. Just under 20% of drivers do not carry auto insurance. Alabama also has the highest number of fatal pedestrian accidents involving young adults between the ages of 25-34, followed by people aged 35-44.

5. Georgia

Georgia is one of the more dangerous states for pedestrians. 236 pedestrians were killed in Georgia in 2019 and there were a total of 1,491 traffic fatalities overall. Although Georgia does not have an extremely high number of uninsured drivers, it does have a fair amount of alcohol-related crashes. In 2019, there were 355 fatal accidents in Georgia involving drivers with a BAC over .08.

Know your road rules

If you get into an accident involving a pedestrian, you can face serious legal consequences. The legal penalties are even more severe if you hit a pedestrian and leave the scene.

The road rules and laws around pedestrian accidents are different in every state. But if you hit and kill a pedestrian, it’s likely that you will get charged with vehicular manslaughter. Vehicular manslaughter is defined as causing death to a human being due to negligence, drunk driving, speeding, reckless driving or another form of illegal driving.

If you hit a pedestrian, the liability portion of your car insurance policy will protect you financially (up to your coverage limits) in a few ways. Your bodily injury liability coverage will pay for the pedestrian’s medical bills and your property damage liability coverage will pay for any property damage you cause. For example, if you hit a pedestrian who was riding their bike across the street, your property damage insurance would compensate them for a new bike if their old one was destroyed in the crash. Liability insurance also pays for your legal fees if you get sued.

Here are a few things to know about liability insurance:

However, keep in mind that a minimum coverage policy provides limited protection. If you hit a pedestrian, your minimum coverage policy may not cover the victim’s losses in full, in which case you would have to pay the difference out-of-pocket. If you live in one of the most dangerous states for pedestrians, it’s especially important to consider raising your coverage limits for more protection.

In addition, uninsured motorists can make things complicated when it comes to pedestrian accidents. If you get hit by a driver while walking and they don’t have insurance, you may not receive any money to pay for your medical expenses or property damage. In this situation, you would likely have to take the uninsured driver to court to seek compensation for your injuries and other losses.

Unfortunately, a surprising number of drivers don’t carry car insurance, even though it is a legal requirement in almost every state. Here are some staggering facts about uninsured drivers:

  • The Insurance Research Council (IRC) estimates that approximately 32 million U.S. drivers are uninsured, which is equal to about one in eight drivers.
  • In 2019, Mississippi had the highest rate of uninsured drivers at 29.4%. Wyoming had the lowest at 5.8%.

No matter how confident you are in your safe driving skills, having a good car insurance policy is important. It will protect yourself and others in the event of an accident with a pedestrian, an uninsured motorist and even fender benders that result in minor damage. There are dozens of highly rated car insurance companies that offer comprehensive coverage options, generous discounts and affordable average rates.

Pedestrian safety tips

Accidents with pedestrians are usually avoidable. However, drivers and pedestrians need to stay aware and take preventative measures to avoid collisions. Besides having enough car insurance coverage, here are a few ways that walkers and drivers can improve pedestrian safety.

For pedestrians:

  • Put your phone down when crossing the street: When you are walking across the street, avoid looking at your phone. You should also limit all other distractions, like listening to music or talking on the phone, which can prevent you from seeing and hearing cars coming.
  • Don’t walk in the road: Whenever possible, avoid walking in the road. Using sidewalks and designated walkways is much safer and keeps you away from traffic.
  • Use designated crosswalks and avoid jaywalking: Although it’s not always possible, try to use crosswalks whenever you can. Jaywalking is dangerous, and if you get hit while jaywalking, the driver may not be liable for any injuries or damages.
  • Make yourself visible to drivers: If you are walking in the dark or in poor weather, wear something that makes you more visible to cars. Wearing bright colors, a headlamp or clothing with reflective strips can keep you safer.
  • Don’t walk if you’ve been drinking: After drinking alcohol, it’s best to find alternate transportation. Walking while impaired can increase your risk of getting hit.

For drivers:

  • Use caution at night or in bad weather: When driving in the dark or in bad weather conditions, use extra caution. You could be less likely to see a pedestrian, especially if they are walking in the road or not using a crosswalk.
  • Slow down when you see a crosswalk: When you see a crosswalk ahead, start to slow down. If you spot a pedestrian who is waiting to cross, stop well before the crosswalk and make eye contact so they know it’s safe to cross. In many states, it’s the law for cars to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, even if there is not a stoplight.
  • Always obey traffic signals and speed limits: It goes without saying, but it’s always important to obey traffic signals. Always stop fully at stop signs and look both ways, don’t run red lights and remember that pedestrians always have the right of way in a crosswalk.
  • Remember to look behind you before backing up: Pedestrian accidents can happen when you are backing out of your driveway or in a parking lot. Before you put your car in reverse, double check that no one is behind you and pull out slowly in case someone walks behind your car at the last second.
  • Don’t drive distracted: Driving while distracted can increase the risk of a pedestrian collision. Avoid texting, talking on your phone and even eating while you are behind the wheel. It will reduce your awareness and limit how quickly you can stop if you notice a pedestrian in your surroundings. If you can’t avoid using your phone, use a hands-free device.
Written by
Elizabeth Rivelli
Insurance Contributor
Elizabeth Rivelli is a contributing insurance writer for Bankrate and has years of experience writing for insurance domains such as The Simple Dollar, Coverage.com and NextAdvisor, among others
Edited by
Insurance Editor