The State of Pedestrian Safety in St. Louis

In recent years, the issue of pedestrian safety has become an urgent concern, both nationally and within specific urban contexts. 

According to U.S. News, in the year 2022, more than 7,500 individuals lost their lives after being struck by vehicles while walking along or across roadways. This grim statistic represents the highest number of pedestrian deaths in over four decades.

The report reveals a staggering 77% increase in pedestrian deaths since 2010, signifying a deeply concerning trend that demands immediate attention.

This article focuses on the specific challenges and potential solutions related to pedestrian safety in the vibrant city of St. Louis.

Pedestrian Safety Challenges in St. Louis

Pedestrian safety faces significant challenges, and one of the most pressing concerns is the high pedestrian fatality rate. 

According to a report by KMOV, for the first time since 2002, in 2021, more than 100 individuals in the region lost their lives in road accidents. Missouri, as a whole, grapples with some of the nation’s highest pedestrian fatality rates, earning it a failing grade in safety evaluations.

One major contributing factor to fatalities is the inadequate pedestrian infrastructure. Many streets lack essential features such as crosswalks, sidewalks, and protected lanes, making navigation for pedestrians both difficult and perilous. 

According to the 2021 crash report, a disproportionately high number of accidents occurred in predominantly Black and minority areas. In St. Louis City, 80% of pedestrian fatalities and 55% of fatal car crashes occurred in these outlined areas. This emphasizes the need for improved infrastructure and safety measures.

Speeding and reckless driving emerge as key factors contributing to pedestrian accidents, with a concerning trend of speeding violations reported in the city. The lack of mid-block crossings and pedestrian islands further exacerbates safety concerns, prompting individuals to take risks when navigating roadways.

Limited access to reliable and affordable public transportation contributes to a dependency on car-centric streets, increasing the vulnerability of pedestrians. Legislative efforts to address distracted driving, a notable contributor to traffic crashes, have faced challenges. Missouri stands out as one of only two states without a distracted driving law.

Moreover, as per TorHoerman Law, the widespread prevalence of semi-trucks introduces an additional layer of complexity. St. Louis, functioning as a central hub for cargo and freight transportation, contributes to the rise in trucking-related accidents.

Solutions to Pedestrian Safety Challenges

Solutions to address the challenges related to pedestrian safety in St. Louis include:

Infrastructure Improvement and Traffic Calming Measures

Improving pedestrian safety demands a focused effort on enhancing infrastructure and implementing traffic calming measures. Allocating funds for pedestrian-friendly initiatives is a significant step in this direction. 

According to Riverfront Times, the recently signed Board Bill 120 is hailed as a crucial “first step. ” The bill earmarks at least $40 million from the American Rescue Plan funds to address street safety and infrastructure in the city.

A substantial portion of this allocation, $6 million, is dedicated to sidewalk improvements, aiming to build safer walkways for pedestrians. Additionally, $3.5 million is designated for safety enhancements at the city’s ten most dangerous crash locations. 

The implementation of traffic calming studies is a key facet of the bill. It sets aside  $12 million for designing and executing traffic-calming measures and roadway improvements based on prior studies. This approach is crucial in encouraging drivers to reduce speeds through measures like speed bumps, raised crosswalks, and narrow lanes. 

The bill also outlines a broader plan, allocating $14.5 million for various enhancements such as installing medians, expanding sidewalks, and constructing traffic circles. While St. Louis acknowledges the challenges of this undertaking, the commitment to prioritizing pedestrian safety is a notable stride toward creating safer streets.

Enforcing Traffic Laws and Protecting the Legal Rights of Victims

Infrastructure improvements are crucial, yet the enforcement of existing traffic laws plays a pivotal role in accident prevention. The implementation of stricter regulations, consistent speed limit enforcement, and penalties for reckless driving collectively contribute to building a safer road environment. 

This requires seamless collaboration between law enforcement agencies and local authorities to effectively implement measures that deter traffic violations.

In the unfortunate event of a pedestrian accident, understanding one’s legal rights becomes paramount. Victims often encounter physical, emotional, and financial challenges, necessitating legal recourse to seek compensation for pain and suffering. 

Consulting with a personal injury lawyer is indispensable in navigating the intricate legal aspects of such cases. In the context of accidents involving heavy vehicles, the significance of a specialized St. Louis truck accident lawyer cannot be overstated. 

These legal professionals possess the requisite knowledge and experience to adeptly handle complex truck accident cases, ensuring victims receive fair compensation for damages. Their expertise serves as a valuable asset in holding negligent parties accountable and advocating for justice within the legal system.

Education and Awareness Campaigns

Education and awareness campaigns stand as fundamental pillars in enhancing pedestrian safety. These campaigns aim to educate both pedestrians and drivers, promoting a heightened awareness of safety rules and best practices. 

By implementing initiatives in schools and public spaces and using various media channels, communities can proactively engage in disseminating crucial information. For pedestrians, understanding proper crossing procedures, utilizing crosswalks, and remaining vigilant while navigating traffic are key aspects. 

Simultaneously, drivers can benefit from awareness programs focusing on the significance of yielding to pedestrians, adhering to speed limits, and minimizing distractions. These campaigns serve to create a shared responsibility for safety, promoting a culture of attentiveness and caution on the roads. 

In conclusion, St. Louis has the opportunity to transform into a safer and more walkable city by addressing the challenges surrounding pedestrian safety. Recognizing that pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility, the collaborative efforts of policymakers, community members, and individual pedestrians and drivers are paramount. 

The commitment to infrastructure enhancements, enforcement of traffic laws, and education and awareness campaigns lays the foundation for a comprehensive strategy. 

As St. Louis moves forward, the integration of these solutions promises to mitigate risks and reduce accidents. These strategies will further cultivate an environment where residents and visitors alike can navigate the city streets with confidence. The State of Pedestrian Safety in St. Louis, The State of Pedestrian Safety in St. Louis