Fatality Tracker: Three more pedestrian deaths since Sunday’s update


This photo of two elderly Chicagoans attempting to cross Western Avenue has been featured on Grid Chicago countless times now, but it’s very relevant to the news in this Fatality Tracker update. There have been 10 pedestrian deaths in Chicago this month (so far) and 50% have been people older than 50 years old. Photo by Joshua Koonce.

Pedestrian: 18 (8 have been hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 4 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)
Transit: 6

There are three pedestrian fatalities in this post, bringing the total number (known to us) to 18 deaths in traffic. The original reports come from the Chicago Tribune. 2010 saw 32 pedestrian deaths in Chicago and 33 in 2009. The majority of pedestrian deaths in 2010 occurred in March (6) and May (5). There was only 1 pedestrian death in August 2010 and 2 pedestrian deaths in August 2009. There have been 10 pedestrian deaths in August 2012, so far; five days remain.

Friday, August 24, 2012, 05:30 PM
Kazmiera Falat, 72
6300 S Harlem Avenue (approximate crash location). An eight-lane wide roadway is hardly a hospitable location for someone to walk.

A 72-year-old woman crossing the street blocks from her home died after a dump truck hit her about 5:30 p.m. Friday, according to authorities. The dump truck was northbound on Harlem Avenue near 63rd Street and didn’t stop after hitting her, police said. Its driver is still missing, police said. [We apologize for the Chicago Tribune’s use of robot car language in this passage.]

Update, September 6, 2012: Police have issued a community alert, looking for the driver.

Saturday, August 25, 2012, 11:24 AM
Makayla Dameron, 3
10200 S State Street (approximate crash location)
Not a hit-and-run

A 3-year-old girl was hit and killed by a delivery truck this morning in the Fernwood neighborhood on the Far South Side. The child was crossing the street in the 10200 block of South State Street and was in the middle of the block when a delivery truck struck and killed her, said police News Affairs Officer Michael Sullivan.

Saturday, August 25, 2012, 01:30 AM
Decolbie Esco, 30
Alley near 2400 W Foster Avenue (approximate crash location)

A 30-year-old man was killed early this morning in a hit-and-run accident in the Ravenswood neighborhood, police said. The incident happened about 1:30 a.m. at an alley in the 2400 block of West Foster Avenue, according to police. The man, who was in the area visiting his girlfriend, was dragged by the vehicle after being struck, police said.

I’ve noticed that the ages of the pedestrians who die in traffic crashes skews older. The mean age for those who died in August is 51.7, while the maximum age is 84 and the median age is 55. The pedestrian safety study from the City of Chicago (.pdf) offers additional insight as to the role of age in crash factors and outcomes:

  • Youth pedestrians aged 0 to 14 were more likely to be struck mid-block and not in a crosswalk than other age groups
  • Older pedestrians were more likely to be struck in a crosswalk than other age groups
  • The fatal (K) and serious injury (A) crash rate also was highest among 15 to 18-year olds

The most relevant information is in this passage, though:

Although the pedestrian crash rate of 84.8 per 100,000 for seniors (65+) was second lowest among all age groups, seniors were overrepresented in fatal and serious injury crashes. Despite the fact that seniors were involved in only 6.2 percent of pedestrian crashes overall, they were involved in 9.5 percent of the fatal crashes. Four percent of senior crashes resulted in a fatality and 18.2 percent resulted in serious injury, compared with 1.4 percent and 14.9.

The analysis doesn’t look for explanations for the elderly population’s over-representation in fatal crashes, instead leaving readers with this unfounded statement: “The higher proportion of fatal and serious injury crashes among seniors is likely related to their higher physical fragility relative to the overall population.”

Seniors may be safer behind steering wheel

Commenter Jennifer Davis pointed us in the comments to this gem of a study:

Driving gets more dangerous with age, but older adults may be more vulnerable while walking on the sidewalk than behind the wheel, says a new study.

Researchers who reviewed data on road accident deaths in the UK found that pedestrians over 70 were five times more likely to die from being hit by a car each time they went out than those age 21 to 29.

Read the whole article, published by Reuters. The results don’t surprise me at all, but it’s not something we can pass on lightly. Chicago roads need help.

Updated Septmber 3, 2012, to add information about the relative safety of senior citizens behind the wheel versus walking on the sidewalk and crossing streets. 

* The information is only accurate as of this post’s publishing time and includes only people who died in the Chicago city limits. View previous Fatality Tracker posts.

11 thoughts on “Fatality Tracker: Three more pedestrian deaths since Sunday’s update”

  1. It’s getting to the point where, between ped and bike fatalities and shootings, I’m dreading reading the news. This has gone beyond ridiculous.

  2. Steven & John, I think your “Fatality Tracker” coverage is tops. The recent surge in ped/pedal-cyclist fatalities in Chicago *should* be a headline story in the major media outlets.

    How in the world can the Tribune call the Foster death a “hit-and-run accident”? Only a moron would use such an oxymoron phrase. This is worse than robot car language, in my opinion.

    1. I’m curious to know if the report authors considered any other reasons than a blanket “fragility” factor (which they failed to quantify, qualify, or just discuss more).

    1. Nope. I agree with their focus: “But, he added, ‘the real issue isn’t really safeguarding older drivers, it’s making the road environment safer for pedestrians.’ “

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