Deadliest Cities for Pedestrians

Updated: August 23, 2023

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Without the protection of airbags, seat belts and bumpers, pedestrians are at high risk of severe injury or death in traffic accidents. To find the most dangerous U.S. cities for pedestrians, MoneyGeek analyzed National Highway Traffic Association (NHTSA) traffic fatality data collected from 2018 through 2021 across 225 cities. We found that cities in the South saw pedestrian fatalities spike over this four-year period, while Midwestern cities experienced the lowest average annual fatalities per capita. Going deeper, more than half of the Florida cities analyzed and nearly a quarter of California cities rank among the top 50 most dangerous for pedestrians.

KEY FINDINGS
  • Crossing the street is getting more deadly in America; over four years, the U.S. saw a 15.9% average increase in pedestrian fatalities. Nearly a third of all traffic accidents prove fatal for pedestrians.

  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida, bears the grim title of being the most dangerous city for pedestrians, with an average of 8.1 fatalities per 100,000 residents annually. There, approximately 38% of all car accident fatalities are pedestrian fatalities.

  • Lincoln, Nebraska, and Plano, Texas, rank as the least dangerous cities, each with less than one pedestrian fatality per 100,000 people annually. Both these cities have halved their pedestrian fatalities over four years.

  • Eight of the 20 deadliest cities for pedestrians are located in Florida and California.

4 of the 5 Most Dangerous Cities for Pedestrians Are Located in the South

Most Dangerous Cities for Pedestrians, 2023 badge
  1. Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Fort Lauderdale tops MoneyGeek's list as the most dangerous city for pedestrians, with 8.1 fatalities per 100,000 residents annually. With a population nearing 182,000, this city has seen pedestrian fatalities increase by 7.1% in the last four years.

  2. Jackson, Mississippi: The fatality rate in Jackson (7.2 pedestrian fatalities for every 100,000 people) places it firmly in second. However, it's worth noting that pedestrian fatalities have decreased in the past year; the city's 2021 pedestrian fatality count was the lowest among the five most dangerous cities.

  3. Macon, Georgia: In addition to its high fatality rate (7.0), pedestrian fatalities in Macon account for a significant proportion of all traffic accidents (33.6%). This city, home to just under 157,000 residents, averages 11 pedestrian fatalities per year.

  4. Memphis, Tennessee: With the largest population of the five most dangerous cities (628,118), Memphis holds the fourth spot with 6.8 pedestrian fatalities per capita. It reports a significant four-year change in pedestrian fatalities — with deaths increasing by 56.7% between 2018 and 2021 — underscoring the city's need for improvement.

  5. Albuquerque, New Mexico: While known for its high desert beauty and rich cultural history, Albuquerque faces pedestrian safety hurdles. The city averages 6.7 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents annually. Additionally, more than 37% of all traffic accidents involving pedestrians were fatal.

15 Most Dangerous Cities for Pedestrians
City
Average Annual Pedestrian Fatalities per 100,000 Residents
Average Annual Pedestrian Fatalities
4-Year Change in Pedestrian Fatalities (%)
Pedestrian Fatalities as a % of All Traffic Accidents

1.

Fort Lauderdale, FL

8.1

14.8

7.1%

38.3%

2.

Jackson, MS

7.3

11.0

0.0%

30.8%

3.

Macon, GA

7.0

11.0

25.0%

33.6%

4.

Memphis, TN

6.8

42.5

56.7%

25.9%

5.

Albuquerque, NM

6.7

37.8

45.5%

37.5%

6.

Little Rock, AR

6.7

13.5

-8.3%

38.3%

7.

Victorville, CA

6.6

9.0

9.1%

35.6%

8.

Pompano Beach, FL

6.5

7.3

66.7%

34.5%

Midwest Leads in Pedestrian Safety, While Select Cities Show Significant Progress

Lincoln, Nebraska, and Plano, Texas, have the fewest reported pedestrian fatalities of the cities we analyzed, with a rate of 0.6 per 100,000 residents annually. Over the past four years, these cities have halved their pedestrian fatalities. Virginia Beach, Virginia, also stands out, with the lowest percentage of pedestrian fatalities relative to all traffic accidents at 11.8%.

Meanwhile, at a regional level: Midwestern cities, on average, report lower pedestrian fatality rates than any other region in the U.S. They also show a smaller four-year change in pedestrian fatalities and a lower percentage of pedestrian fatalities relative to all traffic accidents. This might suggest less danger for pedestrians in the Midwest, but it doesn’t diminish the need for continued safety improvements across all regions.

15 Least Dangerous Cities for Pedestrians
City
Average Annual Pedestrian Fatalities per 100,000 Residents
Average Annual Pedestrian Fatalities
4-Year Change in Pedestrian Fatalities (%)
Pedestrian Fatalities as a % of All Traffic Accidents

1.

Lincoln, NE

0.6

1.8

-50%

14.0%

2.

Plano, TX

0.6

1.8

-50%

15.6%

3.

Virginia Beach, VA

0.7

3.3

100%

11.8%

4.

Cedar Rapids, IA

0.7

1.0

0%

13.8%

5.

College Station, TX

0.8

1.0

0%

36.4%

6.

Yonkers, NY

0.8

1.8

0%

26.9%

7.

Boise City, ID

0.8

2.0

-33.30%

25.0%

8.

Carrollton, TX

0.9

1.3

-50%

13.9%

Essential Tips for Staying Safe as a Pedestrian

The journey to safer sidewalks and roads is ongoing. While cities like Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Lincoln, Nebraska, pose unique challenges and successes, the national four-year change in pedestrian fatalities rests at an unsettling 15.9%. The data underscores that every city, whether it's more or less walkable, has its own path to improving pedestrian safety. In the meantime, certain strategies can help you stay safe on foot.

Pedestrian Safety Measures

 
  • Sidewalks and crosswalks are integral for pedestrian safety: use them whenever accessible. In their absence, walk on the edge of the road against the flow of oncoming traffic.
  • Look left, look right and then look left again before crossing streets. Be extra vigilant of turning vehicles.
  • Boost your visibility. Wear bright colors during the day and reflective materials at night. Visibility is a key factor in reducing the risk of accidents.
  • Ditch distractions like your phone or music. Staying alert and attentive can significantly lower the risk of accidents.
  • Before stepping into an intersection, make eye contact with drivers. It's a simple but effective way to confirm that they see you.
  • Never assume drivers will stop for pedestrians.
  • Heed your instincts. If something feels unsafe, promptly move to a safe, well-lit area.

Your Responsibilities as a Driver

While there are some steps pedestrians can take to protect themselves, it’s crucial that drivers also take responsibility for keeping pedestrians safe. Safe driving advice is straightforward: always keep your eyes on the road, obey the speed limits and don't drive under the influence.

It's always safer to travel at slower speeds, especially in areas with pedestrian traffic. Lower speeds give drivers a better chance of avoiding pedestrians altogether. When it comes to surviving an accident, our analysis of pedestrian accident survival rates found that every 10 mph faster a car travels doubles a pedestrian's chance of death.

Hitting a pedestrian can result in criminal charges and the loss of your license. If you are at fault, you'll probably be sued too. Securing good car insurance coverage is important to protect you from liability in the event the worst happens.

Financially, an at-fault accident on your record can increase the cost of your insurance by 40%. If the accident is severe enough or involves driving under the influence, you'll be required to obtain auto coverage that includes an SR-22, which costs even more.

Methodology

To rank the most dangerous cities for pedestrians, MoneyGeek analyzed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data from 2018 through 2021 for cities with a population of 100,000 or more. We calculated the average annual pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents in each of these cities and ranked cities in order of highest to lowest fatalities per 100,000 residents.

For additional context, we also explored the following data:

  • Average annual number of pedestrian fatalities between 2018 and 2021.
  • Pedestrian fatalities as percentage of total traffic fatalities: This is the percentage of pedestrians killed among all persons killed in deadly crashes, calculated by dividing the average number of pedestrian fatalities by the average number of all vehicle-related fatalities.
  • Total pedestrian fatalities since 2018.
  • Four-year change in number of pedestrian fatalities.

Full Data Set

Rank
City
Average Annual Pedestrian Fatalities per 100,000 Residents
Average Annual Pedestrian Fatalities
4-Year Change in Pedestrian Fatalities (%)
Pedestrian Fatalities as a % of All Traffic Accidents
Population
Walk Score¹

1

Fort Lauderdale, FL

8.1

14.8

7.1

38.3

181,666

2

Jackson, MS

7.3

11.0

0.0

30.8

149,813

3

Macon, GA

7.0

11.0

25.0

33.6

156,762

4

Memphis, TN

6.8

42.5

56.7

25.9

628,118

35.0

5

Albuquerque, NM

6.7

37.8

45.5

37.5

562,591

42.6

6

Little Rock, AR

6.7

13.5

-8.3

38.3

201,984

7

Victorville, CA

6.6

9.0

9.1

35.6

135,952

8

Pompano Beach, FL

6.5

7.3

66.7

34.5

111,356

9

North Charleston, SC

6.2

7.3

-22.2

35.8

117,463

10

Baton Rouge, LA

6.1

13.5

137.5

25.6

222,177

39.1

1. Cities without a walk score did not have available data.

About Anja Solum, CEPF


Anja Solum, CEPF headshot

Anja Solum is a certified educator in personal finance and the Data Journalism Manager at MoneyGeek. For over six years, she has produced data analyses and studies for agency and in-house teams across multiple verticals.

Solum holds a bachelor's degree in communication arts from Florida International University. She's passionate about using data to tell compelling, informed stories that empower readers.