The number of pedestrians struck and killed by drivers across the nation has grown by 45% over the last decade, and South Carolina is inching toward the top of state rankings for pedestrian danger and death, according to the report Dangerous by Design released by Smart Growth America in March.
The report looks at the number of pedestrian fatalities caused by vehicles on the road and the average number of fatalities compared to the population to determine the state’s Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI).
South Carolina, while it ranks 12th in total number of pedestrian fatalities between 2010 and 2019, with 1,280 total, ranks 4th in average annual fatalities per 100,00 residents, an average of 2.6.
These numbers gave the Palmetto State a PDI of 107.7 in 2019, 10th in the U.S. That number has increased by 19.8% since then, growing to a 127.5 and bumping the state up to 8th. The amount of growth seen in South Carolina is 2nd in the nation, and signals a trend of increasingly dangerous roads if change is not seen.
“Although people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and income levels suffer the consequences of dangerous street design, some neighborhoods and groups of people bear a larger share of the burden than others,” the report reads, “which may contribute to the indifference of many policymakers to this astonishing increase.”
With the adoption of the Complete Streets program earlier this year, South Carolina is taking steps at the state level to address some of these concerns.
Thee adopted policy requires the State Department of Transportation to work with regional transportation planning partners and transit providers to include walking, bicycling and transit needs, like pedestrian walkways and bike paths, as part of regional visioning plans.
“Safety, connectivity and equitable access are core themes in all of [the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments’] multimodal mobility work, whether that be bike-ped, transit-related or commuter services-centric,” BCDCOG Regional Strategist Daniel Brock told the City Paper in February.
“SCDOT’s introduction of a statewide Complete Streets policy is not only applaudable and congruent with ongoing efforts, it’s also a key tool that will literally save lives and reduce injuries, both in our region and beyond.”
The Charleston Metro area ranks 41st in the nation on the same metric as South Carolina as a whole, with 188 pedestrian fatalities between 2010 and 2019, an average of 2.4 per 100,000 population. This gave the area a 87.3 PDI in 2019, which grew to a 105.7 in 2021.
The full report and interactive map can be viewed at smartgrowthamerica.org.