Whether you're crossing the street or out on a morning bike ride, nearby motor vehicle traffic can pose a very high safety risk. We analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (NHTSA-FARS) and found that on average, 16 Americans die each day as pedestrians or cyclists involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident. That amounts to roughly 5,840 deaths per year. Using this data, we were able to pinpoint which metropolitan areas had the most pedestrian and cyclist fatalities.
- For fatalities per 100,000 residents, Odessa, Texas ranks worst for pedestrians and Cape Coral, Florida ranks worst for cyclists.
- The majority of deaths occur when pedestrians and cyclists are on local streets during times of the day when driver visibility is limited.
- When considering nationwide pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, 29% of the victims died with reported blood alcohol content (BAC) levels above 0.08%.
Which metropolitan areas have the most pedestrian fatalities?
Below is a table ranking major metropolitan regions by pedestrian fatalities.
Deaths per 100,000 Residents
|6||Corpus Christi, Texas||11.14||3.17|
|7||Fayetteville, North Carolina||10.29||3.17|
|10||Wilmington, North Carolina||6.29||2.95|
|11||Albuquerque, New Mexico||19.57||2.91|
|12||Fort Lauderdale, Florida||53.14||2.89|
Which metropolitan areas have the most cyclist fatalities?
Below is a table ranking major metropolitan regions by cyclist fatalities.
Deaths per 100,000 Residents
|1||Cape Coral, Florida||5.43||0.82|
|6||Fort Lauderdale, Florida||12.57||0.68|
|12||West Palm Beach, Florida||8.43||0.61|
The above two tables rank the average number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities that occur each year for major metropolitan areas. The data shows that there are roughly seven times more pedestrian fatalities than cyclist fatalities across all regions each year. The highest number of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents takes place in Odessa, Texas, and the highest number of cyclist fatalities per 100,000 residents takes place in Cape Coral, Florida.
Mapping out where fatal accidents take place
Below is a county-level gradient map showcasing regions where the highest number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths per 100,000 residents occur each year. Most fatalities occur in the southeastern, southwestern and western regions of the country. Florida leads in fatality rates, with 3.47 deaths per 100,000 state residents each year. Delaware comes in second, with 3.05 deaths per 100,000 state residents, and New Mexico comes in third with 2.93 deaths per 100,000 state residents.
Visualizing pedestrian and cyclist deaths by county
What about roadway locations and crash times?
We also took a look at the most likely settings for fatal accidents. The data shows that most deaths occur when cyclists and pedestrians are directly on the roadway, which accounts for 90.8% of total fatalities. Of these accidents, 39.3% occur on local streets, higher than the 25.3% that occur on state highways. To make matters worse, 76.4% of fatal accidents occur when the cyclist or pedestrian is out during the early morning, evening and night, when driver visibility can be limited.
Safety should always be your highest priority regardless of whether you're running, cycling or simply out on a stroll. The data shows clearly that the best move you can make as a pedestrian or cyclist is to ensure you're visible to surrounding drivers by wearing bright colors and reflective gear. The NHTSA provides further detailed safety information for both pedestrians and cyclists.
When do fatalities happen?
Which roads do fatalities take place on?
Where were victims during the accident?
Which metropolitan area has the most drunken pedestrian and cyclist accidents?
We recently released a study presenting the states where you're most likely to be involved in a fatal DUI accident as a driver. However, pedestrians and cyclists aren't always sober when involved in a motor vehicle accident. When considering nationwide pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, 29% of the victims died with reported blood alcohol content (BAC) levels above 0.08%.
Of the metropolitan areas we looked at in this study, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was the only area where all victims were killed with BAC levels above the legal limit. In contrast, Gainesville, Florida, and Peoria and Springfield, Illinois, were the only areas where all victims killed had BAC levels below the legal limit.
Fatalities Above Legal Limit
Fatalities Below Legal Limit
Percentage of Drunken Fatalities (%)
|2||Corpus Christi, Texas||51||4||92|
|5||Fort Lauderdale, Florida||235||73||76|
|10||El Paso, Texas||74||33||69|
|11||Fort Worth, Texas||107||56||65|
Data was acquired from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (NHTSA-FARS). County-level fatalities between 2010 and 2016 were used to calculate the average number of fatalities per year for each metropolitan region. County populations for calculating fatalities per 100,000 residents were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau. Rankings in this study are completely focused on which areas have the most pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, therefore this is only one aspect to consider when grading how bike-friendly or runner-friendly a given metropolitan area is.