New Study: Slower Speeds On Major Roads Could Help Reduce Rising Pedestrian Deaths

July 5, 2023 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff | Tips & Information , News & Media

New Study: Slower Speeds On Major Roads Could Help Reduce Rising Pedestrian Deaths

Pedestrian deaths in the United States have been rising in recent years, and a new study suggests that slower speeds on major arterial roads could help reduce these deaths.

The study, conducted by StreetLight Data, found that arterial roads make up about 15% of all roads in urban areas, but they account for 67% of pedestrian deaths. This is because arterial roads are often busy with traffic, and they can have high speeds, which makes it more likely that pedestrians will be hit and killed.

The study also found that there is a significant difference in pedestrian safety between cities with low average speeds on arterial roads and cities with high average speeds. For example, New York City, where 84.1% of major pedestrian roadways have average speeds under 25 mph, has a much lower pedestrian fatality rate than Phoenix, where 65% of pedestrian-heavy major roadways average vehicle speeds above 35 mph.

The study concludes that lowering speeds on arterial roads is an important step that can be taken to reduce pedestrian deaths. They also suggest that other measures, such as better infrastructure design and addressing risky driving behaviors, can also help to reduce pedestrian deaths.

Another recent study by Governors Highway Safety Association gave comprehensive look at state and national trends in pedestrian deaths in 2022. The report stated that drivers struck and killed at least 7,508 people walking in 2022 – the highest number since 1981 and an average of 20 deaths every day.

Pedestrians are twice as likely to be killed in a collision when a car is traveling at 30 mph compared to 20 mph, and over five times more likely when the car is driving 40 mph, according to data from the AAA Foundation. Time of day matters too; most pedestrian deaths occur at night.

“The streets are for everyone, not just cars and other motor vehicles,” said Matt Clark, managing partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Clark. “We need to make our streets safer for pedestrians, and slowing down on arterial roads is a critical step in the right direction. Every step taken toward pedestrian safety is a stride towards preserving lives and building communities that prioritize human well-being over vehicular speed.”



Arterial roads, in simple terms, are major roads that play a crucial role in connecting different areas within a city or region. Examples of arterial roads in Bakersfield include:

  • California Avenue: Running east-west, California Avenue is a major arterial road that spans across Bakersfield, connecting various neighborhoods, commercial areas, and schools.
  • Chester Avenue: Another significant arterial road, Chester Avenue runs north-south through Bakersfield and serves as a primary route for commuters and local traffic.
  • Union Avenue: Union Avenue is an important arterial road that intersects with other major roads and connects different parts of the city.
  • Ming Avenue: Ming Avenue is a major east-west arterial road that provides access to residential areas, shopping centers, and schools.
  • Stockdale Highway: Serving as a major east-west corridor, Stockdale Highway connects Bakersfield’s downtown area with the western parts of the city, passing through residential, commercial, and recreational areas.
  • Olive Drive: Olive Drive is an arterial road that runs parallel to the Kern River and connects various neighborhoods and business districts in Bakersfield.



There are a number of things that you can do to help reduce pedestrian deaths. By taking these steps, we can help to make our streets safer for everyone. Here are a few tips:

  • Obey the speed limit, especially on arterial roads.
  • Be aware of pedestrians, especially at night.
  • Drive defensively and be prepared to stop for pedestrians.
  • Support policies that promote slower speeds on arterial roads.

The latest nationwide studies list Bakersfield as the No. 2 most dangerous metropolitan area in the United States to be a pedestrian and show a shocking increase in the pedestrian fatality rates over the years. Here are two ways you can avoid pedestrian accidents locally:

  1. Avoid walking or running in the evening hours. The latest data shows that the most common time pedestrian accidents occur in Bakersfield any day of the week is between 6 to 9 pm.
  2. Be obvious and predictable, crossing at crosswalks or intersections only, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible if there is no sidewalk. 57% of pedestrian accidents in Bakersfield happen because of a pedestrian violation, like crossing where there is not a crosswalk, according to state data.

As reported recently on the Chain | Cohn | Clark blog, a federal transportation agency is proposing a new rule that would require all vehicles to have automatic emergency braking systems in an effort to reduce traffic fatalities. Automatic Emergency Braking and Automatic Pedestrian Detection systems, which use sensors to detect when a vehicle is about to crash and then automatically applies the brakes to prevent or mitigate the crash, would save thousands of lives and prevent millions of injuries each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at