Study: Male pedestrians more likely to die than female pedestrians

John Egan

Watch out, male pedestrians. New research shows you're twice as likely to die after being hit by a vehicle as female pedestrians are.

Dr. Motao Zhu, an assistant professor at the West Virginia University School of Public Health, led a group of researchers who analyzed U.S. travel and traffic data from 2008 and 2009. They examined the amount of walking done each day by males and females over age 5, the difference in collision risk between males and females, and fatality rates.

In 2010, nearly 4,300 pedestrians were killed in the U.S., according to the Federal Highway Administration, and an estimated 70,000 pedestrian injuries were reported.

In a news release, Zhu said more research will be done regarding the gap between deaths among male and female pedestrians. One of the questions they'll try to answer: Are male pedestrians taking more risks, such as walking along highways?

"Of course, we already know that a vehicle's speed affects the severity of a person's injuries. Alcohol involvement can also play a large role, and not just with drivers. While most people know not to drive while drunk, it's not safe to walk the streets while impaired, either," Zhu said.

The study was published in the journal Injury Prevention. The research was supported by grants from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

In the U.S., pedestrians account for more than 13 percent of traffic deaths. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the pedestrians who are most at risk are 5- to 9-year-old males, "who tend to dart out into the street. This problem may be compounded by the fact that speeds are frequently a problem in areas where children are walking and playing."

Here are some other statistics about pedestrians from federal transportation agencies:

  • 69 percent of pedestrians killed in 2009 were males.
  • Nearly three-fourths of pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas.
  • Nearly half of pedestrian deaths happen on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
  • 48 percent of traffic accidents in 2009 that resulted in pedestrian deaths involved alcohol consumption by the drivers or the pedestrians.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these safety tips for pedestrians:

  • When possible, cross a street at a designated crosswalk. Always stop and look left, right and left again before crossing.
  • Increase visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing reflective clothing.
  • It's much safer to walk on a sidewalk, but if you have to walk in the street, walk facing traffic.