Foxx (Susan Walsh / AP)
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says he plans to make fixing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and improving pedestrian safety two of his top priorities.
Fatalities among pedestrians increased for the third consecutive year in 2012 — up 6.4 percent — or twice as much as the overall increase in traffic deaths.
Government data shows the large majority of pedestrian deaths occurred in urban areas, at non-intersections, at night and many involved alcohol. More than 4,700 pedestrians were killed in 2012 — or 14 percent of all people killed in car crashes. The number of pedestrians injured by cars rose 10 percent last year to 76,000
“I was jogging one morning, and I got hit by a car. And while I was lucky, too many people aren’t. These kinds of injuries are trending upwards across the country,” Foxx said Wednesday in a speech in Washington. “As a mayor, I saw an uptick in the number of joggers and walkers and bicyclists hurt on the road. ... You can expect me to bring more attention to pedestrian and bicycle safety during my time as secretary.”
Foxx was in Detroit and toured the North American International Auto Show Monday.
A 2011 report found Metro Detroit is the 12th most dangerous area in the United States for pedestrians. Between 2000 and 2009, 799 pedestrians were killed in the Detroit-Livonia-Warren area — a rate of 1.8 deaths per 100,000 residents annually, according to Transportation for America.
The four most dangerous areas for pedestrians were in Florida. The Orlando area was the most dangerous, followed by Tampa-St. Petersburg, Jacksonville and the Miami area.
In August, Foxx invited states home to the 22 large cities with the highest number of pedestrian deaths — including Detroit, New York, Chicago, Washington and Los Angeles — to apply for six grants by Aug. 30.
“Whether you live in a city or a small town, and whether you drive a car, take the bus or ride a train, at some point in the day, everyone is a pedestrian,” Foxx said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 3 out of 4 pedestrian deaths are in big cities — and 70 percent are at night and many involve alcohol. At the same time, overall road deaths have been falling.
Since 2009, the Federal Highway Administration has awarded $3.8 billion to more than 11,000 projects to make travel safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
In Michigan, pedestrian fatalities were up 9 percent in 2011, but then decreased 5 percent, from 140 in 2011 to 133 in 2012.