Origins of Drivers and Pedestrians Involved in Pedestrian Crashes

In the upcoming 2012 Pedestrian Safety Tracking Report, researchers at the New Jersey Bicycle & Pedestrian Resource Center examined the relationship between zip code of residence for both drivers and pedestrians involved crashes and how this illustrates the characteristics of crashes and who is causing them.  For this analysis, the ten municipalities with the most number of pedestrian crashes between 2003 and 2011 were selected – Atlantic City, Camden, Elizabeth, Irvington, Jersey City, New Brunswick, Newark, Passaic, Paterson, and Trenton.  For each pedestrian crash in these municipalities, the zip code, city, and state of residence were found for the driver and pedestrian involved.  For each municipality, the total number of pedestrians and drivers involved in a pedestrian crash for each zip code was divided by the total number of pedestrians and drivers involved in a pedestrian crash in the municipality.  A series of maps and tables were produced using this data to show which zip codes drivers and pedestrians involved in pedestrian crashes came from.

For each pedestrian crash in the municipalities mentioned above, the percentage of drivers and pedestrians residing in the municipality, outside the municipality but within New Jersey, and outside New Jersey were found.  A summary of these results are shown in Table 1, below.

Only five of the ten municipalities saw a majority of drivers involved in pedestrian crashes residing in that municipality – Camden, Elizabeth, Paterson, Trenton, Jersey City.  Conversely, all ten municipalities saw a majority of pedestrians involved in pedestrian crashes residing within that municipality, with Atlantic City being the lowest at 53%.  This clearly shows that drivers involved in pedestrian crashes are more likely to be traveling from outside the municipality, while pedestrians are more likely to be local.

As shown in Table 2, researchers also looked at census data for these ten municipalities, including percentage of workers commuting by walking, percentage of workers without access to a vehicle, median household income, and percentage of non-white residents.

On average, these municipalities have a higher percentage of workers commuting by walking, a higher percentage of workers without access to a vehicle, a lower median income, and a higher percentage of non-white residents.  While this data represents a small sample size, it does suggest a connection between socioeconomic factors and number of pedestrian crashes.

As part of a more comprehensive study, this analysis shows that pedestrian crashes tend to be concentrated in communities that attract out-of-town drivers, such as employment centers and tourist destinations, and in communities with high numbers of residents who tend to walk more, i.e. those who walk to work, those without a car, those with low incomes and minority populations.  Focusing pedestrian safety efforts on communities that fit this profile will help improve pedestrian safety on New Jersey roads.

To download the full 2012 Pedestrian Safety Tracking Report, click here.

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