Walking in Tucson is a Health Risk – But It Doesn’t Need to Be

Every Tucson resident who is paying attention to local headlines knows that pedestrian deaths are a serious problem in our city. There were twice as many pedestrian deaths in 2017 as there were in 2016, and 2018 proved even deadlier for pedestrians.

Though the news is bad in Tucson, it’s also a problem facing both our state and nation. From 2008 to 2017, pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. jumped 35 percent. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that Arizona had the second highest per capita rate of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. in the first half of 2018.

What the Numbers Mean

It would be easy to chalk this up to having more dangerous roads in general, but that is not what the numbers suggest. From 2008 to 2017, the number of all other traffic deaths decreased by 6 percent. That means pedestrian safety is the biggest road safety problem facing our city and state.

Why Is This Happening?

There isn’t one single explanation for this increase, but rather a number contributing factors. As was written in a piece for KGUN, many safety advocates, including Emily Yetman of Living Streets Alliance, place part of the blame on our city’s infrastructure. A column in the Arizona Daily Star paints a bleak picture of Tucson’s sidewalks and discusses the dangerous driving habits that contribute to our pedestrian death epidemic.

The GHSA also suggests that much of the problem can be attributed to drivers. Its report talks about the increase in mobile phone use by drivers and the growing popularity of SUVs, which are more likely to kill a pedestrian upon impact than smaller passenger vehicles are. The director of Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety said that pedestrians’ failure to use designated crosswalks worsens an already bad situation. But that assertion is problematic in a city where crosswalks don’t meet the needs of pedestrians.

So, it’s clear that the problem is both a human and institutional one. Safety advocates and families grieving the loss of loved ones killed in pedestrian accidents are left to wonder if there are solutions.

What Can We Do to Solve the Problem of Pedestrian Accidents?

The Living Streets Alliance is looking to other cities for answers to our infrastructure’s shortcomings. For example, the organization mentions a colorful crosswalk design concept in Austin, Texas, that draws drivers’ and pedestrians’ attention to the designated crossing areas. We can improve existing crosswalks, increase the number of crosswalks and install more lights to make sure that pedestrians can be seen by drivers.

Of course, these improvements in Tucson’s infrastructure only go so far if drivers don’t do their part. Distraction and impairment are two leading causes of all traffic accidents, including pedestrian accidents. Increasing public awareness of the problem might sound like a routine solution, but instilling in drivers’ minds the urgency of pedestrian safety is central to improving overall road safety in Tucson.

How Our Law Firm Can Help Victims

The news is not encouraging, and we desperately need a focused effort to find and implement solutions. At the Khalidi Law Firm, we deal with these accidents often. We see the ways in which pedestrian deaths and serious injuries impact the lives of so many Tucson residents. We also want solutions to the problem, and one of the ways we help our clients is by holding bad drivers accountable for their actions.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a bad driver, we want to get you the help you need. To learn more about our services, we encourage you to contact our team today to schedule a free consultation.