Chart of the Day: Pedestrian Crash Survival Rates by Age and Speed of Car

Simply put, pedestrian safety is basic physics. The fundamental relationship here is really not that complicated, and there have been lots of charts showing the correlation between speed and fatality in crashes.

But these charts, via Streetsblog, are the best that I’ve seen yet, and they throw in the added variable of the age of the victim.

Here you go:

crash death speed chart 3 crash death speed chart 2 crash death speed chart 1


The fundamental relationship between speed and crash severity is one reason why I’ve been trying to get more attention to our state’s speed limit restrictions, where cities remain unable to set urban street speeds under 30 miles per hour (with a few exceptions for schools and bike routes, I believe).

field of view speed perception chart

A speed / visual perception chart.


The other important factor relating to speed is that it affects crash incidence, in addition to severity. The slower that drivers are going, the greater their ability to perceive a complex urban environment. And the greater amount of time ad river has to react to unexpected encounters, swerving or hitting the brakes. Speed is the crucial variable.

That’s why I believe the real goal of safety movements like Toward Zero Deaths should be to reduce the “design speed” of our urban roadways under 30 miles per hour.

(It’s a lot like the Strong Towns speed flowchart: Are people speeding? If yes, redesign the road with a lower design speed. Repeat until the problem is solved.)

Given the rash of tragic crashes, the basic problem remains the same.

5 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Pedestrian Crash Survival Rates by Age and Speed of Car

  1. Julia

    My understanding is that (functional) height has a direct correlation w severe injury/fatality because going under a vehicle is much more likely to cause those than going over the hood or to the side. Height already is privilege, w short heights being pretty directly correlated w being female, not white, child/elderly, disabled, childhood food insecurity (I think), and lower wages. I wonder if/how speed intersects or at what speed the height advantage disappears for total horribleness all around.

    I don’t know that I have a point in adding this in (nor any citation handy) but

      1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke Post author

        No just that we should be cognizant of how different bodies, measures, and design standards play out in terms of equity conversations.

        1. Jon

          That’s an interesting point. My younger brother was hit by a car while he was in middle school, but I think his height might have saved him from more severe injury, as he rolled onto the hood.

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