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Baltimore ranks 28th nationally in pedestrian danger study

An analysis of traffic fatalities in the last decade found Baltmore was the nation's 28th most dangerous city for pedestrians, out of 51 major metropolitan areas.

The study, to be released Tuesday by the National Complete Streets Coalition, found 482 pedestrians were killed along roadways in the Baltimore region from 2003 to 2012. Nationally, 47,025 pedestrians were killed, while an additional 676,000 were injured.

Fatalities have been on the rise since about 2009, the study found, after sharply declining for several years. The new study comes as more people report walking to work.

In the new "Dangerous by Design" study, many of the cities ranked most dangerous are in the Sunbelt. The Orlando, Fla., area tops the list, and the top four cities are all in Florida. Baltimore ranks well below many Southern cities but higher than some of its closest neighbors, including Washington, Philadelphia and Virginia Beach, Va.

Baltimore ranks worse when cities are ranked by the percentage of all traffic deaths that involved pedestrians. With pedestrians representing 20 percent of all traffic deaths, Baltimore ranks 10th on that list.

Nationwide over the same time frame, pedestrians accounted for about 12.3 percent of traffic deaths, a number that is on the rise.

Meanwhile, the number of drivers and passengers of vehicles who died in traffic crashes dropped by one-third from 2003 to 2012, the study found.

"We realized this significant drop by focusing on vehicle design, encouraging and enforcing seat belt use, cracking down on drunk driving and curbing distracted driving — saving thousands of loved ones," the study found. "We have invested nowhere near the same level of money and energy in providing for the safety and security of people when they are walking."

The coalition called for more streets to be designed with pedestrians in mind, and more funding to go toward programs that focus on walking and biking. It also called on government agencies to collaborate more on ensuring pedestrian safety and for more data to be collected.

The coalition said there are many factors contributing to pedestrian deaths, from speeding to distracted driving — local officials have also noted pedestrian distraction on cellphones and other devices — and said the federal government should hold states more accountable for pedestrian deaths.

Multiple organizations in Baltimore have ramped up their efforts to increase awareness and reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths on Baltimore's streets.

At the end of last month, experts at the Johns Hopkins University and from Johns Hopkins Hospital joined the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration to launch the "East Baltimore Pedestrian Safety Campaign," citing rising numbers of pedestrian-related accidents in the city.

Michael Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said at the time that 700 pedestrians are injured by cars in Baltimore every year.

"The victims of these accidents are innocent, unsuspecting children and adults of all ages and ethnicities, and in most cases drivers and pedestrians are equally at fault," Klag said before outlining new efforts at education and prevention.

The city also has worked with the Baltimore Metropolitan Council on its "Street Smart" campaign to educate drivers and pedestrians alike.

krector@baltsun.com

twitter.com/rectorsun

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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