It has become a story that is all too common in Tucson.
- On March 30, a pedestrian was seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident while crossing West Congress Street. The pedestrian’s name and condition were not available.
- On March 24, 42-year-old Guthrie Moreno, a pedestrian, was hit by a 1985 GMC Suburban while crossing Craycroft Road north of East 29th Street. Moreno died shortly after being transported to Banner University Medical Center.
- On March 19, two people, 17-year-old Hailey Newton and Taviel Tyler, 7, died and five others were injured when a 23-year-old man driving a sedan left the roadway on 43rd and Maryland Avenues and ran into them before colliding with several other vehicles.
- On March 18, 74-year-old Conrad Alfonso Iacono II was injured in a hit-and-run accident crossing Grant Road and later died at Banner University Medical Center.
The Arizona Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that in 2015 there were 1,399 pedestrian crashes, 160 fatal crashes, 161 pedestrians killed, 1,169 injury crashes and 1,236 pedestrians injured. The numbers for fatalities were up slightly from 2013, when there were 156 fatal crashes and 157 fatalities.
High rates of pedestrian accidents in Arizona are nothing new. A report from 2014 shows both Tucson and Phoenix rank in the 25 metropolitan areas most dangerous for pedestrians, with Tucson at 18th and Phoenix at 24th from 2008 to 2013. In that period, Tucson averaged 9.7 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people.
Understanding the Scope of the Problem
Nationally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 4,884 pedestrians were killed in accidents in 2014, or 15 percent of total traffic fatalities, with 65,000 injured. It was the most pedestrian fatalities since 2005, when 4,892 pedestrians were killed in 2005.
The study also shows a disparity related to age. Twenty percent of all pedestrians killed (979 of 4,884) and an estimated 11 percent of all pedestrians injured (7,000 of 65,000 after rounding) were 65 and older. The NHTSA also found:
- In 2014 there were 4,884 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes – a 2 percent increase from 4,779 pedestrian fatalities in 2013.
- On average, a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and injured every 8 minutes.
- Twenty-six percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred between 6:00 p.m. and 8:59 p.m. in 2014.
- Almost one-fifth (19%) of the children from birth to 14 years old killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.
- More than two-thirds (70%) of the pedestrians killed in traffic crashes were males.
- Alcohol involvement—for the driver and/or the pedestrian— was reported in 48 percent of all fatal pedestrian crashes.
- 90 percent of the pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes that involved single vehicles.
- Eighteen percent of the pedestrians killed were struck in crashes that involved hit-and-run drivers.
Accidents, by their nature, are unpredictable. But there are precautions that can be taken to minimize the basic risks, including these:
Be Safe and Be Seen: Make yourself visible to drivers
- Wear bright/light colored clothing and reflective materials.
- Carry a flashlight when walking at night.
- Cross the street in a well-lit area at night.
- Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars, or other obstacles before crossing so drivers can see you.
Be Smart and Alert: Avoid dangerous behaviors
- Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
- Stay sober; walking while impaired increases your chances of being struck.
- Don’t assume vehicles will stop. Make eye contact with drivers; don’t just look at the vehicle. If a driver is on a cell phone, he or she may not be paying enough attention to drive safely.
- Don’t rely solely on pedestrian signals. Look before you cross the road.
- Be alert to engine noise or backup lights on cars when in parking lots and near on-street parking spaces.
Be Careful at Crossings: Look before you step
- Cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections, if possible.
- Obey traffic signals such as WALK/DON’T WALK signs.
- Look left, right, and left again before crossing a street.
- Watch for turning vehicles. Make sure the driver sees you and will stop for you.
- Look across ALL lanes you must cross and visually clear each lane before proceeding. Even if one motorist stops, do not presume drivers in other lanes can see you and will stop for you.
- Don’t wear headphones or talk on a cell phone while crossing.