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Affluence impacts pedestrian safety

Wealthier neighborhoods may have better schools and lower crime. However, a 2014 report from "Governing" magazine indicates that income may also play a role in pedestrian safety. The magazine, which addresses issues relating to state and local government administration, issued a report finding that poorer areas suffer almost twice the number of pedestrian accidents than more affluent communities.

The report was based on accident data compiled by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration from 2008 to 2012. Each accident's geographic coordinates was applied to the total number of accidents computed for all Census tracts that are similar in size to neighborhoods.

Metro-area tracts below the national poverty rate of 15 percent reported 5.3 deaths per 100,000 residents over those five years. Poorer neighborhoods, where more than 25 percent of the population lived in poverty, suffered a fatality rate of 12.1 deaths per 100,000 people.

Census tracts in New York boroughs and in Philadelphia were an aberration in that they recorded slightly different rates for wealthier neighborhoolds. Middle-class areas also recorded fatality rates that were only slightly different than wealthier neighborhoods in most counties.

Approximately 7.2 pedestrians per 100,000 residents died in accidents in all of the nation's metro areas from 2008 through 2012. Densely populated urban areas and Sun Belt Southern cities also suffered higher pedestrian fatalities in this period. Older Americans and minorities are killed in these accidents at higher rates.

According to this report, many residents in poorer neighborhoods face a greater risk of a pedestrian accident because they are more likely to walk to work or use public transportation as compared to individuals in wealthier communities. Other research involving 154 communities indicates that poorer neighborhoods have less public safety infrastructure such as sidewalks, lighting, crosswalks and traffic calming devices. While this report indicates that the less-affluent unjustly face higher risks, no one is immune from suffering serious injuries or being involved in fatal pedestrian accident in Connecticut.

Source: Governing, "America's poor neighborhoods plagued by pedestrian deaths," Accessed Oct. 26, 2015

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