Chart of the Day: Projected Statewide Pedestrian Fatalities

Here’s a grim chart from the Star Tribune’s data desk showing the 2016 rising trend in pedestrian deaths from crashes.

The chart below looks at death counts for the past ten years adjusted for the first nine months of the year:


You should read through the article. The author, Eric Roper, interviews a public safety expert who points to the rise in distracted driving (e.g. cell phones) as a prime cause of the dangerous escalation.

[Donna] Berger [a director at the Department of Public Safety] said that crashes related to distracted driving, based on anecdotal evidence, are rising.

“I’m very concerned with what I’m seeing these days with things like the Pokemon, and the cell phones, and just the technology that’s built in the car,” she said.

She said the fact that trendlines in the bicycle and pedestrian data aren’t dropping is a worrying trend in itself.

“We aren’t making progress in changing people’s behavior,” Berger said. “Our point is we want to move toward zero deaths. One death is too many. No one should get that knock on the door.”


What’s especially troubling is that pedestrian deaths typically spike after daylight savings time kicks in — especially on Halloween — when it gets dark during the p.m. rush hour.

Without a robot-car deus ex machina, distracted driving is a problem that will only escalate as cars incorporate more and more technology into their dashboards. All the more reason to focus more on reducing speeds (and therefore crash impacts) especially in walkable areas. Without looking more closely at the geographic sites of these crashes it’s hard to be more specific about design solutions to this problem, but reducing speeds can only help.


The article also breaks down injuries by in- and out-state trends.


8 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Projected Statewide Pedestrian Fatalities

  1. Alex

    I’m all for reducing speeds on surface streets, and reducing the residential speed limit to 25 MPH. At the same time as we reduce speed limits on surface streets, we should also be talking about raising limits to the 85th percentile speed on freeways. That would require changes in state law to increase limits on freeways in the metro area to more reasonable amounts. There is no reason I35W should be limited to 55 MPH when some rural two lane roads with no median are being increased to 60 MPH, and 4 lane interstates outside the metro are posted at 70. Doing this would probably keep more people happy, and would be easy to compromise on (increase speed limits where safe to – on freeways, and reduce speed limits in residential/business districts).

    1. NiMo

      I think they are low like that in the city that due to noise issues. I’m not going to look it up or do the math, but intuitively I would imagine that traffic volume increases at an increasing rate relative to vehicle speed since the power required to overcome drag increases at an increasing rate.

      When I moved away from my apartment at Dupont and Franklin, I was amazed at how much quieter it was not being so near a highway.

      1. Alex

        I’d guess that things like noise barriers and the material that a highway is made of (concrete vs asphalt) would effect noise much more than speed would. Even if speed affects noise, you wouldn’t notice much difference. Actual speeds don’t change much after a speed limit is increased. Most drivers will still go 65 or 70 or 80 on a road that can handle it even if the speed limit is 55.

        Also worth pointing out is that most drivers don’t do 30 on residential streets, so reducing the residential limit to 25 wouldn’t affect average speeds much.

        1. Alex

          Sure, but that doesn’t mean that people should be limited to an unreasonably low speed outside rush hour, since rush hour is only about 4-8 hours of the day.

  2. Ted Hathaway

    Nicollet Mall Quiz:

    Q: How do you know when to cross the street?
    A: When all the cars have stopped moving.

    Since the Nicollet Mall construction project began the indifference of drivers to traffic signals has been astonishing. With the buses redirected, vehicular traffic need only stop for lowly cyclists and pedestrians. Or not. When the light turns green to cross at 3rd – or 4th, or 5th, 6th, etc. – vehicles continue to go through the intersection, sometimes a full 10 seconds after the light change – more than long enough to cross the intersection. Well, they’re just pedestrians – they can wait a little longer…. But heaven help anyone supposing that “green means go.” This is just further evidence of the arrogant attitude that roadways are the exclusive domain of vehicles and little more than a killing zone for all else.

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