Governors' Report: No Improvement in Pedestrian Fatality Rate Last Year

Elaine Herzberg's death by autonomous vehicle on March 18 in Tempe was a "first," but what of the 224 pedestrians that died last year in Arizona, the nation's most dangerous state for pedestrians according to a 50-state report released Feb. 28?

3 minute read

March 24, 2018, 1:00 PM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


Five days before Elaine Herzberg was fatally struck on March 18 by an Uber operating in autonomous mode with a driver behind the wheel in Maricopa County, Az., becoming the first pedestrian fatality caused by a self-driven vehicle, four pedestrians were struck by an SUV that hopped a curb in Fountain Hills, also Maricopa County.

Those three pedestrian deaths and one critical injury was no aberration among 10 pedestrian fatalities in the Phoenix Metro area that week. Arizona had the highest pedestrian fatality rate in the nation last year, based on a report released Feb. 28 by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

"GHSA estimates the number of pedestrians killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide in 2017 was 5,984, a decrease of one half of one percent — essentially unchanged from 2016," notes the summary of the report [pdf] based on the first six months of data last year.

"The increased rate of pedestrian deaths [1.61 per 100,000 people] in Arizona is nearly double the national average of 0.81 deaths per 100,000 people and translates to 113 people killed from January through June of 2017, the national report said," reported BrieAnna J Frank for The Arizona Republic on March 1. "That's up from 101 during the same time span in 2016."

With just over 7 million residents, the Grand Canyon State is the 14th most populous, yet it ranked #5, behind California, Florida, Texas, and New York in pedestrian deaths during the time period.

"The Governor's Office of Highway Safety in Arizona said [Feb. 28] the total number of pedestrian deaths for 2017 jumped to 224 from the previous year," adds Frank. According to agency director, Alberto Gutier, there were 30 bicyclist deaths in 2017.

"I've seen the consequences and the lack of respect for pedestrians and bicyclists," Gutier said, noting that 26 percent of all traffic fatalities in Arizona last year involved pedestrians or bicyclists. 

Arizona was hardly alone in seeing its pedestrian fatality rate increase; 22 other states and the District of Columbia experienced increases, while 20 saw decreases, and seven were stable, according to the report.

Nationwide, pedestrians are faring far worse than motorists in terms of safety, notes the study, written by Richard Retting of Sam Schwartz Consulting.

The number of pedestrian fatalities increased 27 percent from 2007 to 2016, while at the same time, all other traffic deaths decreased by 14 percent.

Alissa Walker, Curbed's urbanism editor, pens a powerful piece on March 22 on the death of Herzberg, hoping it will inspire Arizona cities to prioritize pedestrian safety, not by ticketing jaywalkers but through street design.

The fact that the state is so deadly for walkers is not a coincidence. The same factor that is responsible for Arizona’s high number of pedestrian deaths is the very same reason Uber is testing there—the state prioritizes cars over the lives of pedestrians.

Hat tip to Alissa Walker.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 in Governors Highway Safety Association

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

3D rendering of blue flying car over a cityscape and buildings, a river, and bridges in the background.

Minnesota Legalizes Flying Cars

A new Minnesota law outlines state registration of “roadable aircraft” and legalizes their use on state roads and highways.

20 minutes ago - The U.S. Sun

Green highway signs on Highway 23 for Ann Arbor and Flint, Michigan.

Michigan DOT Nixes Ann Arbor Highway Expansion

In response to public feedback, the Michigan Department of Transportation is no longer considering options to widen U.S. 23 on Ann Arbor’s east side.

1 hour ago - MLive

View of downtown Dallas, Texas skyline with skyscrapers against twilight sky.

Dallas Hopes to Boost Economy With TV and Film Tax Breaks

The Dallas city council voted unanimously to request a designation from the state that would allow the city to offer sales and use tax exemptions for redevelopment of TV and film production facilities.

May 27 - The Dallas Morning News

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.