In 'Right Of Way,' Angie Schmitt On The Rise Of Pedestrian Deaths

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(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

For years, America’s roads were getting safer for pedestrians. But since 2009, fatalities have been rising. Listen to Latanya Byrd of Philadelphia.

"My niece was walking home one hot summer evening, and she's walking with the kids. They were getting ready to cross the Roosevelt Boulevard. They didn't see any cars in sight," she says.

A speeding driver appeared out of nowhere.

"People thought it was debris in the air," Byrd says. "But it was actually her and the children. They were thrown — I don't know — maybe 70, 79 feet."

Journalist Angie Schmitt says America’s car culture, our regulations and our road design favor cars — and evermore SUVs — over people.

"We got to keep the cars moving quickly. Don't delay the drivers. And that's taken precedence over keeping people safe," Schmitt says. "It's a really bad trade off we make."

Today, On Point: What will it take to keep pedestrians safe?


Latanya Byrd, co-founder of Families for Safe Streets of Greater Philadelphia. She lost her niece and her niece's three children to a speeding driver in 2013. Director of student financial services for Orleans Technical College.

Angie Schmitt, author of "Right of Way: Race, Class and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America." Founder of 3MPH, a road safety consulting firm. (@schmangee)

Sue Bai, chief engineer and division director at the Honda Research Institute USA.

From The Reading List

From RIGHT OF WAY: RACE, CLASS, AND THE SILENT EPIDEMIC OF PEDESTRIAN DEATHS IN AMERICA by Angie Schmitt. Copyright © 2020 Angie Schmitt. Reproduced by permission of Island Press, Washington, D.C.

This program aired on August 3, 2021.

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