Mindfulness of pedestrians should be a no-brainer when behind the wheel, but this isn’t the case for all drivers. Which cities fare the worst with respect to pedestrian safety?

Driver behavior on the roads has worsened over the past year despite reduced traffic overall due to the pandemic. Speeding, reckless driving, and collision rates have increased significantly, not just among drivers but also between drivers and pedestrians. A spike in fatality rates among drivers and pedestrians — eight and twenty percent, respectively — is the result, according to the National Safety Council and the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Per trip, pedestrians are one and a half times more likely than drivers and passengers to die in a car crash, according to the CDC. As such, it may come as no surprise that law enforcement takes the risk of pedestrian fatalities very seriously. Proper driving behavior toward pedestrians on the road is strictly enforced across the country. Failure to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk or intersection is a serious moving violation. Even drivers who come to a complete stop may still be guilty of failure to yield if they come close to running the pedestrian down. Penalties for this offense are stiff and, in most states, constitute one to two points and a fine ranging between $150-250 for a first offense.

Nationally, citation rates for failing to yield the right of way a pedestrian occur nearly twenty times more frequently than pedestrian fatalities. Typically resulting from a tragic set of circumstances, pedestrian fatalities encompass a small fraction of the cases when drivers endanger pedestrians. It stands to reason that they do not paint the whole picture of pedestrian safety. On the other hand, citation rates for failing to yield to a pedestrian represent a more widespread pattern of behavior, providing a better understanding of the kind of driver to expect on the roads in a given area.

City to city, driver behavior towards pedestrians varies significantly. To understand pedestrian safety by metro area, researchers at Insurify analyzed data from over 4 million drivers in their database and identified the most dangerous cities for pedestrians.

Insights

  • National average. Across all metropolitan areas in the United States, 4.86 out of every 10,000 drivers are guilty of failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian. Considered another way, this is 1 in 2,000 drivers.
  • Not great in the Golden State. Although the top twenty most dangerous cities for pedestrians are located in eight different states, nearly half of the cities are located in California, which has the highest representation of any state on the list. With eight cities among the top twenty, the Golden State is followed by New York and New Jersey, with three and two cities, respectively, among the top twenty.
  • No southern cities. Whereas cities located in the West, Midwest, and Northeast rank among the most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians, none from the South have made it to the top twenty.
  • Safest cities for pedestrians. The three cities with the best-behaved drivers towards pedestrians are Louisville, Kentucky; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Columbia, South Carolina. These three cities each are home to only 0.45, 0.82, and 0.83 drivers per 10,000 receiving a citation for failing to yield to a pedestrian.

Methodology

The data science team at Insurify, a car insurance comparison website, referred to its database of over 4 million insurance applications to determine the most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians.

When applying for car insurance, drivers disclose information such as where they live and their driving history, such as any moving violations on their record. For each U.S. city, Insurify’s data scientists calculated the proportion of drivers reporting one or more citations for failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian. The top twenty cities with the highest share of these drivers were ranked as the most dangerous cities for pedestrians. Due to the relative population size of each of New York City’s five boroughs and the notable exception of Queens from the top twenty, all five were evaluated as individual metro areas in the analysis.

Other studies take only pedestrian motor vehicle fatalities into account when determining the most dangerous cities for pedestrians, but this data alone may not paint the whole picture. Citations for failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian occur nearly twenty times more frequently than pedestrian deaths and thus may represent a more widespread pattern of behavior towards pedestrians.

The 20 Most Dangerous U.S. Cities for Pedestrians

20. Dayton, Ohio

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 17.9 (3.7 times the national average)

19. Brockton, Massachusetts

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 18.3 (3.8 times the national average)

18. Concord, California

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 18.4 (3.8 times the national average)

17. Sparks, Nevada

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 18.5 (3.8 times the national average)

16. Elizabeth, New Jersey

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 18.7 (3.8 times the national average)

15. Fremont, California

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 19.2 (4.0 times the national average)

14. Apple Valley, California

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 19.3 (4.0 times the national average)

13. Saint Paul, Minnesota

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 21.8 (4.5 times the national average)

12. Perris, California

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 22.5 (4.6 times the national average)

11. Gresham, Oregon

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 24.3 (5.0 times the national average)

10. San Mateo, California

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 24.4 (5.0 times the national average)

9. Downey, California

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 25.5 (5.2 times the national average)

8. East Orange, New Jersey

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 27.4 (5.6 times the national average)

7. Paterson, New Jersey

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 28.1 (5.8 times the national average)

6. Manhattan, New York

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 28.4 (5.9 times the national average)

5. Hawthorne, California

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 31.0 (6.4 times the national average)

4. Brooklyn, New York

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 32.3 (6.6 times the national average)

3. Sunnyvale, California

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 41.2 (8.5 times the national average)

2. Bronx, New York

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 45.9 (9.4 times the national average)

1. Staten Island, New York

  • Drivers cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian, per 10,000 motorists: 53.6 (11.0 times the national average)

 

If you have any questions or comments about this article or would like to request the data, please contact insights@insurify.com.