A new national report ranks South Carolina as one of the most dangerous in the nation for pedestrians.
"We looked at the number of people that commute to work by walking and when we took that into account, South Carolina ranked fourth across all of the states," National Complete Streets Coalition spokesperson Stefanie Seskin said.
Over the last decade, more than one-thousand people have been killed while walking on our roads. But based on the findings, Charleston is already at an advantage when it comes to changes necessary to improve safety.
According to Smart Growth America, children, minorities, and adults over sixty-five are more likely to be killed while walking than any other group. The main reason being poor street planning.
"The way that we design our streets encourages high risk behavior. When crosswalks are half a mile apart or more, and when you want to cross the street, you're going to want to cross in the middle. That's just human nature," Seskin said.
The National Complete Streets Coalition says since World War Two, South Carolina development has been geared more towards moving cars and not pedestrians. The result is more communities separated by long-wide streets with higher speed limits, just like Florida, the worst state in our country for pedestrian traffic.
"You have lots of homes and shops and businesses that are separated from each other and the only way you can get between them are these very large high speed roadways that are dangerous for people who are walking," Seskin said.
More public transportation, narrower lanes, compact intersections, and more crosswalks ... closer together can discourage speeding and make the roads safer for everyone.
"Charleston already has a really great start. You have a really great downtown that's relatively connected in terms of the street network," Seskin said.
Vermont, Alaska, and the District of Columbia had the fewest pedestrian fatalities in the country. Smart Growth America says it's a result of having more compact towns, shorter trips, and better sidewalks.
"We hope that people will see these numbers and realize it's not just a number but it's family members, friends, neighbors," Seskin said.