Judging by the number of folks charged with driving under influence I am guessing the penalty is rather light. Of...

Rethink roads to lower pedestrian deaths

Pedestrian Deaths Things to Know-1

A truck drives through a marked crosswalk in front of pedestrians in St. Paul, Minn., after deaths spiked to a 25-year high in Minnesota in 2016.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The number of pedestrians killed in the United States over the past decade or so — 49,340 between 2008 and 2017 — is about seven times higher than the number of Americans killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined.

Those are among the many sobering statistics from a recent report by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition, which rightly calls on local, state and national leaders to make safer roads a priority.

Perhaps even more troubling than the number of deaths, however, is the primary reason why our streets are so dangerous: We build them that way.

Over the 10-year study period, pedestrian deaths jumped by more than 35 percent while motorist deaths actually dropped by about 6 percent. And those shifts happened even as the nation drove slightly more and walked almost exactly the same amount.

In other words, our focus on building roads designed almost entirely for cars seems to be making things marginally safer for drivers, which is a good thing. But that slight improvement has come at great cost for pedestrians.

It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition.

A big part of the problem is the way we measure the success of a road, which has a lot to do with a metric called “level of service.” Roads are given a letter grade based on traffic flow at peak hours. Congested roads fail, free-flowing roads get good grades.

But as the study correctly notes, “Minimizing vehicle delay as the number one goal often produces the roads that are the most dangerous by design.”

High traffic speeds are, not surprisingly, very closely correlated with pedestrian risk. The likelihood of a crash being fatal increases dramatically when cars are traveling faster than about 30 mph.

And the focus on moving traffic quickly isn’t just for pedestrians.

An incredible 340,000 American drivers lost their lives behind the wheel between 2008 and 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s about one person every 15 minutes.

Focusing on level of service also doesn’t necessarily mean taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck. Some roads with good grades are wastefully overbuilt, for example. Other streets with failing grades run through popular, desirable and highly productive neighborhoods.

As the study notes, Congress has a prime opportunity to make safer streets a priority as part of ongoing federal transportation funding efforts and a potential bipartisan push for infrastructure improvements. State and local governments need to be part of the solution as well.

The top priority ought to be rethinking basic street design.

“Rather than designing roads that encourage speeding and then relying upon enforcement, states and cities should design roads to encourage safer, slower driving speeds in the first place,” suggests the study.

We can also fix problematic roads by testing out a variety of traffic calming measures, many of which are relatively cheap and easy to implement — and easy to undo if they cause more problems than they solve.

The Post & Courier of Charleston, S.C.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


April 20, 2019

There are some, who after winning election to the General Assembly and crossing the threshold of the Legislative Building in Raleigh believe they’ve been transformed.

They acquire knowledge and insight beyond that of the hoi polloi.

That must be the only reason for the continued to raft of…


April 16, 2019

The announcement that Kirstjen Nielsen was stepping down as Secretary of Homeland Security was sudden, but it wasn’t really a surprise. Never a favorite of President Trump, her days became numbered when her patron in the administration, Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, resigned in December.…

Homeland Security Secretary-1

April 15, 2019

The day before his indictment was announced last week, Robin Hayes said he was stepping down as chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party because of health issues. The next day, the public learned that what was driving Hayes from office wasn’t only his ailments, but the ill health of…

Republican Chairman

April 13, 2019

You know the game by now: A call comes into your mobile phone. A number pops up on your screen. You don’t recognize it. Your first instinct is to decline it, but what if it’s your child’s school? The auto repair guy? Something else? It’s a guessing game, and we’re the…

Kicking Robocalls-2

April 09, 2019

Walter Ginter began using heroin in the early 1970s while serving in the Army. By 1977, desperate to kick the habit, he turned to daily doses of methadone, a synthetic opioid that eases withdrawal and decreases cravings. The treatment worked.

“I have a good life today,” says Ginter, 69,…

Opioid Lawsuit New York

April 08, 2019

One of the first things we teach our children is to never, ever get into a stranger’s car.

In the age of Uber and Lyft, we all need to relearn that lesson. Along with: The later you’re out at night, the greater your chances of running into the wrong person. And: It’s always safer…

Uber Traffic Analysis

April 07, 2019

If you care about safe water for all, you should be celebrating the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s decision to order Duke Energy to excavate coal ash from its power plant sites in the state. It was the right call for communities that for too long have been vulnerable to…

Duke Energy Coal Ash

April 07, 2019

As many of your readers are aware, State Treasurer Dale Folwell has chosen to forge ahead with his proposal to significantly alter the reimbursement strategy for health care providers who offer care under the State Health Plan. Citing concerns with the State Health Plan’s insolvency,…

April 06, 2019

Belatedly, it occurred to the Trump administration that closing the U.S.-Mexico border, as the president threatened, posed the risk of paralyzing manufacturing assembly lines, leaving grocery shelves bare and throwing the U.S. economy into a tailspin, if not outright recession. Bad idea.

So now the…

Trump Immigration

April 02, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court heard a lot last week about what is wrong with the way North Carolina’s congressional districts are laid out. There were no questions about the bad or the good.

The job of the nine justices isn’t about that — only what is or isn’t constitutional. It…

Supreme Court Redistricting-1
73 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 8
        Next Page»   Last Page»