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Pedestrian deaths down, but still a serious concern

on Tuesday, 02 July 2019. Posted in Editorials, Opinions

Some people think flying is dangerous. Others will tell you that flying is no less dangerous than driving a vehicle on the highway. Statistically speaking, it’s not even close.

There were more than 5 million accidents on the nation’s highways in 2018 compared to 20 accidents in the air. The number of highway fatalities in 2018 far outnumbered airline passenger deaths.

Recent studies have indicated that even walking is getting more and more risky - especially if you live in South Carolina, and even more especially if you live in Florence.

According to the National Complete Streets Coalition’s biannual report on pedestrian safety, South Carolina is the 10th most dangerous state for pedestrians. Statistics from the S.C. Department of Public Safety show there were 150 pedestrian fatalities on state roads in 2018.

The rankings are based on something called a pedestrian danger index, or PDI. PDI measures how deadly it is for people to walk based on the number of people struck and killed by drivers while walking in comparison to the number of people that live in that state or metro area. The NCSC’s report is based on traffic deaths that occurred between 2008 and 2017 from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a national database of fatal traffic crashes.

According to the report, Florence has a PDI of 310, which is nearly three times the state average and almost six times the national average. South Carolina, overall, has a PDI of 107, which is nearly double the national average of 55.3.

Between 2008 and 2017, drivers struck and killed 1,144 people walking in South Carolina. Over the past decade, the number of people struck and killed by drivers while walking increased by 35.4 percent nationwide. In the same time period, South Carolina’s pedestrian deaths increased by 52.5 percent.

Of the state’s metropolitan areas, Florence ranked first. A distant second was Myrtle Beach at 171, followed by Spartanburg at 165, Sumter at 156, and Greenville 153. The lowest reported index was Columbia at 50.

Other recent studies, including one by the Governors Highway Safety Association, reveal the same concerning numbers.

Kind of gets you a little nervous about taking that leisurely Sunday afternoon stroll, doesn’t it? Before you put your walking shoes away, look at the numbers thus far in 2019.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety reported 80 pedestrian deaths across the state as of June 23.

There have been only two pedestrian deaths in Florence thus far in 2019. At this time last year, 10 pedestrians had been struck and killed.

This is good news, but we still need to remain cautious.

With this in mind we offer some safety tips from the S.S. Department of Public Safety for both pedestrians and drivers:

For pedestrians:

• Try to make any walking trips during the daytime when it is easier to be seen.

• If walking or running at night, wear light-colored or reflective clothing to improve visibility.

• Stay on the sidewalk if available. This is normally the safest place for a pedestrian.

• Don’t use headphones. By eliminating your sense of hearing, you are less likely to be able to avoid an accident.

For drivers:

• Slow down in pedestrian areas.

• Look for eye contact. Pedestrians want to know that you’ve seen them before they cross the street.

• Take weather conditions into account

• Don’t, under any circumstances, drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

We know many of these sound like common sense, but it can’t hurt to be reminded. Please be safe.

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