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In recent years, as Seattle’s population has exploded, so has the number of people foregoing cars to get to work. From 2006 to 2017, the number of people walking or rolling to work has risen by 24%, according to a Seattle Department of Transportation report. Similarly, more people are also biking to work or using public transportation, while fewer are driving.

What has this meant for pedestrian safety here in the city?

Pedestrian crashes by the numbers

The Seattle Department of Transportation’s report provides some numbers that help us understand the scope of the problem. From 2014 to 2017, there were 6,817 crashes involving pedestrians in the city. Of those, 874 left the pedestrian seriously injured or dead. (Moderate and minor injury figures aren’t included in the report.)

Both of those figures are noticeably higher than the corresponding numbers for cyclists over that same time.

In addition, in 2017, the city saw the highest number of pedestrian deaths in more than a decade. That year, there were more deaths among pedestrians than bikers or motorists.

Factors in pedestrian crashes

The report also broke down some specific common factors in pedestrian crashes. That includes looking at crashes where the driver was:

  • Turning left
  • Turning right
  • Going straight

One common factor? The more lanes or legs at an intersection, the more likely a pedestrian crash is to occur there. Similarly, intersections where a major arterial roadway connects with a non-arterial roadway seemed particularly worrisome for pedestrian crashes.

However, there is some potentially positive news. As the number of pedestrians and cyclists in an area increases, the rate of crashes decreases. The report referred to this as a “safety in numbers” effect.

Unfortunately, nothing you do can prevent irresponsible behavior on the part of a driver. Whether it’s speeding, texting, driving drunk, grooming or engaging in some other negligent behavior, it’s often an innocent pedestrian that tragically pays the price.