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Walk At Your Own Risk

Walk at your own risk: Houston is one of nation's most dangerous cities for pedestrians

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Houston ranks No. 7 on the overall worst places for pedestrians. Photo via Seattle Steve

Texans have a lot to boast about, but this is not one of them. According to a recent study the Lone Star State claims four of the top 25 most dangerous cities for pedestrians.

The Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan area ranks No. 7, with more than 4,100 pedestrian deaths over the decade from 2003 - 2012.

"Dangerous by Design 2014" is a study conducted by National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, with help from AARP, the American Society of Landscape Architects and America Walks. Researchers analyzed more than 47,000 pedestrian deaths in the 50 largest metropolitan areas.

The Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan area ranks No. 7, with more than 4,100 pedestrian deaths over the decade from 2003 - 2012. 

In order to compare the relative safety of one place to another, the report uses a Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) that indicates the likelihood of a person on foot being hit by a vehicle and killed. The PDI is based on the share of local commuters who walk to work — the best available measure of how many people are likely to be out walking each day — and the most recent five years of data on pedestrian fatalities.

Dallas-Fort Worth comes in at No. 12, San Antonio claims the No. 18 spot and Austin lands at No. 24. But it's not as bad as Florida, where Orlando leads the list of 50 most dangerous cities for pedestrians, followed by Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami.

With so many metro areas ranking poorly, it should come as no surprise that Texas ranks No. 10 on the statewide Pedestrian Danger Index. From 2003-2012, more than 34,000 Texans died in traffic accidents, the second most in the country. California came in first.

So who is most likely to fall victim to a traffic death? According to the study, adults over the age of 65 and people of color are most at risk.

The study shows traffic deaths among children are down, which researchers blame on another culprit. "This decline is often attributed to a general drop in physical activity," the study reads. "Though the drop in deaths is certainly a bright spot in our analysis, it is tempered by the corresponding rise in childhood obesity and associated chronic diseases related to lack of physical activity."

In order to curb this growing trend, the study suggests lowering speed limits, adding more responsive crossing signals and approaching future street design to benefit pedestrians first. To read the full study, head to Smart Growth America's website.

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