10 Most Dangerous States for Pedestrians (2021 Study)

In the 10 most dangerous states for pedestrians, the pedestrian death rate is 41% more than the national average. The total number of pedestrian deaths in those 10 states is 3,094. Two regions of the country are overwhelmingly represented with the most dangerous states — the South and the West.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and Cinncinati.com. H...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Feb 23, 2022

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Here's what you need to know...

  • The 10 most dangerous states for pedestrians account for 50% of all pedestrian deaths
  • The pedestrian death rate in the 10 worst states is 2.56 per 100,000 residents
  • More than half of the 10 most dangerous states are in the South
  • Four of the 10 deadliest states for pedestrians are in the West

In 2019, 6,205 pedestrians died in fatal traffic accidents, accounting for 34.7% of all traffic fatalities. Unfortunately, the number continues to rise year after year.

The issue of pedestrian deaths is multifaceted and complex. It includes the widespread use of technology while driving, poor pedestrian infrastructure — particularly in low-income communities — and specific populations that are higher-risk.

In this article, we’ll take you through the 10 most dangerous states for pedestrians. We’ll dive into the complex data behind this issue and add the “why” to these jaw-dropping statistics.

If you want to know why this problem won’t go away, you’ve come to the right place. Take a look at the graphic below for a quick view of which states rank in the top.

Most dangerous states for pedestrians

After we go through our top 10 ranked states, we’ll touch on two important issues: pedestrian fatalities by race and why America might just be dangerous by design.

Hitting a pedestrian is a serious issue and can cause your car insurance rates to rise. One of the best ways to save on car insurance is to compare car insurance companies and find out what they can offer for you.

Before you dig in, could you save money on your car insurance? Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to compare car insurance rates and see if you can get a better deal.

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10 Deadliest States for Pedestrians

From coast to coast, we’ve ranked the 10 worst states for pedestrians. Our list includes the three largest states in the country, but it also includes a couple of the smallest.

Some states are known for having other driving problems like drunk driving or distracted driving. However, other states on this list might surprise you.

In this article, we’ll be comparing the state statistics with the national statistics often, so check out the graphic below to see the national pedestrian deaths and death rate statistics.

National Pedestrian Deaths & Death Rate

All states share the same singular issue: More pedestrians die in these 10 states when compared to their respective populations than anywhere else in the country.

That fact alone is a tragedy, as many of these deaths can be prevented. Keep scrolling to see which states make the list of the deadliest states for pedestrians.

#10 – Texas

  • Pedestrian death rate: 2.24
  • Pedestrian deaths: 649

Texas ranks 10th on this list of the most dangerous states for pedestrians. It registered 649 pedestrian deaths in 2019, leading to a pedestrian death rate of 2.24 pedestrians killed per 100,000 residents.

Texas’s pedestrian death rate is 0.33 or 18.5% higher than the national pedestrian death rate of 1.89. It is also 44.5% higher than the median for all states.

The Lone Star State is known for one major traffic characteristic that can affect pedestrian death rates: big vehicles. Texas ranks high in truck ownership.

Recent research shows that, when oversized vehicles strike pedestrians, they are correlated with higher fatality rates than smaller vehicles.

#9 – Alabama

  • Pedestrian death rate: 2.43
  • Pedestrian deaths: 119

Coming in at No. 9 is Alabama with 119 pedestrian deaths for a pedestrian death rate of 2.43 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents.

The Alabama pedestrian death rate is 0.54 or 28.6% higher than the national pedestrian death rate and 56.8% higher than the median for all states.

Alabama is one of many states in the South (some we’ll see on this list) known for bad driving overall. There is significant overlap between the states on this list and those in our ranking of the 10 states with the worst drivers.

#8 – California

  • Pedestrian death rate: 2.46
  • Pedestrian deaths: 972

California ranks 8th on this list with 972 pedestrian deaths for a pedestrian death rate of 2.46 pedestrians killed per 100,000 residents.

California’s pedestrian death rate is 0.57 or 30.2% higher than the national pedestrian death rate. It is also 58.7% higher than the median for all states.

The Golden State has some of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, with a high combined density of vehicles and pedestrians. This mix of a large number of vehicles and pedestrians can lead to a higher likelihood of accidents.

Having excellent pedestrian infrastructure is one way to cut down on pedestrian deaths.

#6 (Tied) – Louisiana

  • Pedestrian death rate: 2.54
  • Pedestrian deaths: 118

Placing No. 7 in this ranking is Louisiana, with 118 pedestrian deaths for a pedestrian death rate of 2.54 fatalities per 100,000 residents.

Its death rate is 0.65, or 34.4% higher than the national pedestrian death rate and 63.9% higher than the median for all states.

Louisiana has had major issues with distracted driving over the past couple of years, with the state often ranking among the worst for that issue. Using technology while driving can lead to inattention on the road and increases in accidents involving pedestrians.

Pedestrians must always be aware of the road as well. Knowing the traffic signs, watching for danger, and staying off electronic devices can reduce the risk of being involved in a pedestrian traffic accident.

#6 (Tied) – Hawaii

  • Pedestrian death rate: 2.54
  • Pedestrian deaths: 36

Hawaii ranks sixth in this list of the 10 most dangerous states for pedestrians. It had 36 pedestrian deaths in 2019, leading to a pedestrian death rate of 2.54 pedestrians killed per 100,000 residents.

The Hawaii pedestrian death rate is 0.65 or 34.4% higher than the national pedestrian death rate. It is also 63.9% higher than the median for all states.

Hawaii is small, so its number of pedestrian deaths and population are both lower than average. However, the number of pedestrians killed per population places it tied for sixth in this ranking.

#5 – Arizona

  • Pedestrian death rate: 2.91
  • Pedestrian deaths: 212

Coming in at No. 5 on this list is Arizona, with 212 pedestrian deaths and a death rate of 2.91 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents.

Arizona represents a significant jump from the previous states. Its pedestrian death rate is a full 1.02 or 54% above the national pedestrian death rate and 87.7% above the median for all states.

To put the jump in context, Arizona’s pedestrian death rate is 14.6% above Hawaii and Louisiana, which are tied for sixth.

If you live in one of the worst states for pedestrian deaths, it may be helpful to look into high limits for liability car insurance coverage. Hitting a pedestrian can cause your rates to rise and might lead to the person suing you.

#4 – South Carolina

  • Pedestrian death rate: 3.11
  • Pedestrian deaths: 160

South Carolina ranks fourth on this list of the deadliest states for pedestrians. It had 160 pedestrian deaths for a death rate of 3.11 pedestrians killed per 100,000 residents.

South Carolina’s pedestrian death rate of 3.11 is 1.22 or 64.6% higher than the national pedestrian death rate and 101% higher than the national median.

One problem that plagues South Carolina is bad roads. These can lead to traffic accidents with pedestrians when drivers try to veer away from damaged pavement or hit something that causes them to lose control of their vehicle.

#3 – Delaware

  • Pedestrian death rate: 3.29
  • Pedestrian deaths: 32

Landing in the No. 3 spot on this ranking is Delaware, with 32 pedestrian deaths for a pedestrian death rate of 3.29 fatalities per 100,000 residents.

Delaware’s pedestrian death rate is 1.4 or 74.1% higher than the national pedestrian death rate. It is also 112% higher than the median for all states.

Delaware is often ranked in the middle of the pack for states with the best drivers, but careless driving (pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities) is one spot where it struggles.

#2 – Florida

  • Pedestrian death rate: 3.32
  • Pedestrian deaths: 713

Florida ranks second on this list with 713 pedestrian deaths and a pedestrian death rate of 3.32 pedestrians killed per 100,000 residents.

Florida’s pedestrian death rate is 1.43, or 75.7% higher than the national pedestrian death rate and 114% higher than the national median.

The state is also a middle-of-the-pack driving state with one major Achille’s heel: careless driving. It falls nearly dead-last among all states when it comes to careless driving.

#1 – New Mexico

  • Pedestrian death rate: 3.96
  • Pedestrian deaths: 83

Coming in at No. 1 as the most dangerous state overall for pedestrians is New Mexico. It had 83 pedestrian deaths in 2019 for the highest pedestrian fatality rate in America — 3.96 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents.

New Mexico represents another big jump in the death rate, with its death rate being 2.07 or 110% higher than the national pedestrian death rate. It is also 156% higher than the median for all states.

New Mexico’s pedestrian death rate is a full 19.3% worse than the nearest state. As a result, the state frequently appears on lists of states with the worst drivers.

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Disproportionate Rates of Pedestrian Fatalities

To look closer at the issue of pedestrian deaths, we collected data on pedestrian deaths by race.

In the following table, you’ll see five different races along with their corresponding death rates, hospitalization rates, and percentages of hospitalizations that last more than one week:

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You’ll see that those who are Black or have multiracial backgrounds and Hispanic backgrounds have the highest death rates. These races are disproportionately represented in low-income families and are more likely to live in low-income communities, which pose a particular danger to pedestrians.

Low-income communities are much less likely to have safe pedestrian infrastructure with well-maintained sidewalks, functioning street lamps, or safe bus stops.

Pedestrian infrastructure quality can vary according to state as well. Some states have deadly sidewalks while others have safer sidewalks.

Sex & Age Affect Likelihood of Pedestrian Death

Two other areas we investigated were sex and age. The table below shows each sex broken down by age group, the number of pedestrians killed, and the death rate per capita:

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The statistics show that both males and females are more likely to be killed and have a higher death rate when they reach middle age. For males, the death rate peaks in the 55-64 age bracket. For females, the highest death rate occurs in the 75+ age bracket.

Across the board, more males are killed in every category compared to females. This is especially true after 24 years of age. At this age, the number of male pedestrians who die is double or almost triple the number of female pedestrians killed per age category.

Thought Leaders Talk Dangers for Pedestrians

For this section, we reached out to experts with experience in professional driving and travel to discuss the dangers pedestrians face and how they can avoid them. Those interviewed include business owners, consultants, and travelers. Scroll down for their takes.

Around the World

What can pedestrians do to limit their chances of getting in a traffic accident?

“I’ve witnessed many close calls. I’m a driver with Uber and Lyft, and most near-accident instances happen because of mobile phone usage. Pedestrians lose their focus while crossing the road or walk away from the sidewalk toward the road without realizing it.

The best way for pedestrians to limit their chances of getting into a traffic accident is to abstain from using their phones while walking on a busy street. It’s best to mute the notifications so that there’s no distraction or urge to check the phone every time.

This isn’t just the case with pedestrians but drivers, too. Many drivers have the habit of checking their phones while they drive. This can quickly escalate to fatal accidents.

Another thing the pedestrians should bear in mind is to trust themselves before trusting drivers. When they cross a busy road, they tend to do so without looking because they feel that every driver will stop at the traffic lights. Your life is in your own hands.

In cases of drunk driving, the driver won’t even notice the traffic lights and will run over you. You’ll lose your life for no fault of your own.

It’s best to be vigilant because not everyone around you is following traffic rules as diligently as you.

If you have older people or children with you, it’s best to carry their stuff so that they can walk with ease and can at least have a chance to escape probable accidents. Most older people walk slowly, and carrying stuff with them will keep their hands occupied too. This gives them no chance to be able to run if a rash driver brushes past them.

On the other hand, children can be hyperactive, and before you realize it, your child will be on the road. Leaving their hands free of any toys or other stuff gives you the chance to hold their hands firmly so that they walk with you.”

Todd BissellTodd Bissell is the founder of RideFAQs.com.
His site provides advice for rideshare drivers.

“Being able to walk safely on the street should be a given, but sadly it is not. Over the past decade, around 14 pedestrians per day are killed, the highest number reported since the 90s. Many unsafe states are in the South, with one of the worst states for pedestrians being Florida, followed by Alabama and New Mexico.

The way the pandemic has affected pedestrian safety has yet to be determined, but it has likely increased it. Due to the emptiness of the roads, drivers broke more laws and drove more dangerously than they would if the streets were packed.

Pedestrians most likely to be struck are those in low-income neighborhoods: Black, Native American, or Alaskan people, as well as older adults.

The South tends to have a higher number of these people, so there are more pedestrian fatalities. The South is also the deadliest region for drunk driving. Louisiana has ranked in the top 10 of most dangerous states for pedestrians and one of the worst states for drunk driving.

To limit the chances of hitting a pedestrian, make sure to slow down at crosswalks. Be aware of bike riders or people who are texting and walking.

Many don’t pay attention when about to step out into the crosswalk and assume the cars will stop for them.

Pedestrians can avoid being hit by being hyper-vigilant when crossing the street. Stay off your phone, look both ways and ensure the driver sees you before you step out into the street.”

Savannah BilboSavannah Bilbo is a consultant for Superior Honda.
Superior Honda is a used car dealership in New Orleans.

Why are some states more dangerous than others for pedestrians?

“The number of pedestrians hit and killed by cars increased by 45% between 2010 and 2019. Over the decade, 53,435 individuals were killed while walking in the United States, an average of more than 14 per day.

For pedestrians, Florida is the most hazardous state. Orlando was also discovered to be the state’s most deadly metro region. Iowa is the safest for pedestrians.”

The Design

“Despite the fact that people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds suffer as a result of dangerous street design, some neighborhoods and groups of people bear a disproportionately large share of the burden than others.

This may explain why many policymakers appear to be unconcerned about this startling increase in fatalities.

People who are walking in lower-income communities are killed at a significantly higher rate. The lower the median family income in a metro region, the more unsafe the streets are likely to be for individuals strolling around on them.

Southern states are unsafe for pedestrians in part because their metro regions have longer blocks and broader roadways.”

Communities With Low Income

“People in low-income neighborhoods, elderly persons, and people of color reported a greater risk of pedestrian deaths than other pedestrians. This is usually due to the fact that lower-income neighborhoods are less likely to have efficient roadway designs.”

Compliance With the Law

“A number of external variables impact whether or not a deadly pedestrian accident happens in the first place.

Although I cannot say for certain why this inverse link of compliance and fatalities occurs, one plausible explanation is that high citation rates for failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian are a mechanism for changing driver behavior, therefore lowering mortality rates.”

Marc TonkinMarc Tonkin is a travel writer at JTGTravel.com.
JTG provides guides for travel across the globe.

“The worst city in Europe for pedestrians is Belgrade, Serbia. The reason for this is because the city government doesn’t adjust to the needs of citizens with the infrastructure.

This is why traffic jams are such a common thing and why people often travel for an hour and a half for the distance that would usually require 20 to 30 minutes.

The city also doesn’t buy enough buses, and they lack the workforce since they provide terrible conditions. Many people immigrate to neighboring countries in search of a better life.

The number of buses decreases year after year since they don’t have funds or the will to repair or buy new ones, so they frequently cut their number.

Also, the work that is done usually changes the trajectory of public transportation, and since people are not informed about the changes on the street, they might get caught by surprise, which often leads to accidents.

Furthermore, the population in Belgrade constantly grows, as does the number of cars.

People often park on pedestrian walking areas as well as on the curb, which makes it impossible for mothers with strollers and people with disabilities to pass by.

Since the situation is like this constantly, and the government does nothing about it, people are nervous, and accidents are more frequent.

All in all, the situation is very bad both for people who drive and for those who don’t, and the solution isn’t visible yet.”

Nikolina JericNikolina Jeric is the co-founder of 2Date4Love.
She has a passion for writing and educating others.

“Technology has always played an excellent role in distracting us. The same goes for both drivers and pedestrians. Technology is bound to make drivers and pedestrians fix their eyes on their mobile screens even if they’re walking or driving.

And in the midst of this, one small mistake can turn into a huge accident or even cause someone’s death.

Drivers are mostly in a rush. And so are pedestrians! It’s extremely important for drivers to drive slowly and carefully so that the people around them who are walking remain safe. Everything has its own time, and so does checking the phone.

Keeping the phone down or away while the driver is driving is crucial. This makes them concentrate on the roads and lessens the probabilities of distraction. Drinking and driving should be prohibited, even if it’s just a hangover. The influence of alcohol can easily lead to an accident.

If pedestrians walk on the sidewalks as much as they can, they will be able to avoid mishappenings. But there are many places where you won’t find any sidewalks. In that case, pedestrians should watch out for the drivers and walk on the side of the road where they can face the traffic.

This way, they’ll have an idea of where the drivers are coming from and how to avoid them.

Both drivers and pedestrians should keep their phone and headphones away while traveling. If someone is walking, especially at night, having anything that can grab the attention of the drivers helps a lot.

It may be a flashlight, a neon light jacket, any reflective clothes, etc. This way, the drivers will look out for the pedestrians while driving.”

Alex HernborgAxel Hernborg is the CEO of Tripplo.
His site provides discount codes and travel tips.

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All States Ranked by Pedestrian Traffic Accident Deadliness

Don’t see your state in the ranking? That’s good news. But you must be curious about where your state falls in the list of the most dangerous states for pedestrians.

The table below shows all 50 states ranked by pedestrian deadliness:

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In this study, states in the Northeast and Midwest fared the best, while states in the South and West fared the worst. Many states considered the most dangerous for pedestrians have other driving issues associated with them like drunk driving, distracted driving, and speeding.

Frequently Asked Questions: Dangers for Pedestrians

Want to learn more about the states most dangerous for pedestrians and the issue of pedestrian safety? Here are eight frequently asked questions about the topics.

#1 – Where do pedestrians get hit the most?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most pedestrians fatalities occur in urban settings and on the open road rather than at intersections.

#2 – Which pedestrians are the most at risk?

New lines of thought suggest that pedestrians in low-income communities and older pedestrians are most at risk. The former is because many low-income communities have less-than-adequate pedestrian infrastructures. The latter is because older pedestrians might have health issues that interfere with movement.

#3 – Is Florida the most dangerous state for pedestrians?

Florida ranks second in our list of the most dangerous states for pedestrians. The most dangerous state overall for pedestrians is New Mexico.

#4 – Do pedestrians cause accidents?

Pedestrians can cause traffic accidents, especially if they are inattentive. For example, if a pedestrian crosses a road when they aren’t supposed to, a driver could swerve or brake suddenly, leading to an accident.

#5 – Are pedestrian accidents common?

There are few statistics on the number of crashes involving a pedestrian but when a car does hit a pedestrian, the accident is severe. One statistic suggests that pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than an occupant of a vehicle.

#6 – Where are the No Zones?

No Zones are areas around a vehicle where the driver has little to no visibility. Generally, these zones are divided into the front, sides, and rear of a vehicle. Pedestrians must pay special attention to these areas as drivers will not see you if you are in these areas.

#7 – Where are pedestrians most likely to enter your path unexpectedly?

Areas where there are hidden entrances — like alleyways — pose a problem, along with areas with high pedestrian traffic, like busy intersections and areas with events.

#8 – Where do most child pedestrian accidents happen?

Schools and surrounding neighborhoods are major centers for child pedestrian accidents, especially when schools open and let out for the day.

Methodology: Determining the Most Dangerous States

For this study, our researchers gathered data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on four topics related to pedestrian deaths:

  1. Per state
  2. By race
  3. By sex
  4. By age

For the ranking, our researchers also gathered population data for each state from the U.S. Census Bureau. Our experts then contrasted the number of pedestrian deaths in each state with the population of that state to determine pedestrian death rate statistics.

Our analysts used the pedestrian death rate to create the ranking, with the state with the highest pedestrian death rate ranked No. 1 and the state with the lowest ranked No. 50.

Statistics for pedestrian death rates by race were sourced from the BMC Public Health.

One big question is, “Will my car insurance cover me if I am sued for hitting a pedestrian?” The answer is yes, depending on your policy and coverage limits.

While your car insurance company will cover you, the amount it covers is only as high as your coverage limit. So if you have liability coverage up to $150,000 and are sued for $170,000, that $20,000 is on you.

Make sure to shop around to get the best car insurance coverage at the best price. You can enter your ZIP code into our free tool to get started now.

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Pedestrian Death & Hospitalization Rates by Race
Pedestrian Death Rates by Sex and Age
All U.S. States Ranked by Pedestrian Death Rate
Pedestrian Death & Hospitalization Rates by Race
Pedestrian Death Rates by Sex and Age
All U.S. States Ranked by Pedestrian Death Rate