Mass. pedestrian deaths spiked in 2022
More than 100 people were struck and killed by drivers in cars in 2022, up sharply from the previous year, according to a new study.
The rate of fatal pedestrian crashes jumped 35% between 2021 and 2022, according to a study released Thursday by the advocacy group WalkBoston. The group analyzed data provided by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Of the 101 pedestrian deaths reported, 71% happened in "environmental justice" neighborhoods, according to WalkBoston. This is a designation created by Massachusetts state law, referring to U.S. census tracts where the majority of residents are largely low-income, non-English speaking and/or belong to a minority group.
The fatality rate was disproportionately higher for adults 65 years old and older (65%), even though just 17% of Massachusetts residents are 50 or older.
Brendan Kearney, deputy director of WalkBoston, blames the rise in pedestrian fatalities on poor road design, which fail to reduce illegal speeding.
"We believe that there needs to be safer speed on our streets and really thinking about how people can get around outside of vehicles, too," he said.
One solution, he said, is for state and local governments to target the most dangerous locations first. And the organization is now calling on MassDOT to release a plan on how it will make streets safer.
Of Massachusetts' 351 cities and towns, 60 reported at least one pedestrian fatality. Boston saw the highest number (12), followed by Worcester (7) and Chicopee (5).
In Boston, Kearney pointed to the upcoming Roxbury Transportation Corridors project that proposes improvements to some of the city's "trouble spots," including Melnea Cass Boulevard and Warren Street along Nubian Square.
But it's not just big cities that need fixing, Kearney said.
In Chicopee, which has 8% of Boston's population, three pedestrians were struck and killed by cars on the same street between November and February.
While Kearney said the biggest change will come from government action, he said drivers can exercise more awareness that can help prevent crashes.
"A driver has airbags. Vehicles are, you know, safer on the inside for the drivers, but they are not safer on the outside," he said. "People need to be aware that they need to slow down so they have ... time to react to what's happening on the roadways."