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Is Los Angeles the deadliest place in America for pedestrians? Not exactly

Pedestrians account for a third or more of all traffic deaths in America's big cities
Keoni Cabral/Flickr Creative Commons
An insurance group reviewed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Los Angeles County topped its list — but there's a catch.

A new report has deemed Los Angeles County the worst county to be a pedestrian — but the full picture isn't so clear-cut.

The website Auto Insurance Center reviewed the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Los Angeles County topped the list in pedestrian fatalities, followed by Arizona’s Maricopa County and Houston’s Harris County.

But there’s one caveat to the analysis’ rating system: It looked at the number of deaths, not the rate. That skews the results. 

With more than 10 million residents, Los Angeles is by far the most populous county in the United States. Cook County, home to Chicago, is the second most populous, but has about five million fewer residents.

If you look at the rate of pedestrian fatalities relative to population, Arkansas’ Van Buren County is a far more dangerous place for walkers than Los Angeles. So are Miami-Dade, Riverside, San Bernardino and Philadelphia counties.

In fact, by per capita rate, Los Angeles comes in at tenth out of the 20 counties singled out in the report.

County Pedestrain fatalities Population Rate of pedestrian fatalities per million residents
Van Buren, AR 42 16,851 2492.4
Pinellas, FL 46 938,098 49.0
Duval, FL 41 897,698 45.7
Philadelphia, PA 54 1,560,297 34.6
Broward, FL 64 1,869,235 34.2
Wayne, MI 59 1,764,804 33.4
Bexar, TX 59 1,855,866 31.8
San Bernardino, CA 66 2,112,619 31.2
Miami-Dade, FL 82 2,662,874 30.8
Los Angeles, CA 281 10,116,705 27.8
Clark, NV 55 2,069,681 26.6
Palm Beach, FL 37 1,397,710 26.5
San Diego, CA 84 3,263,431 25.7
Dallas, TX 58 2,518,638 23.0
Maricopa, AZ 94 4,087,191 23.0
Riverside, CA 51 2,329,271 21.9
Harris, TX 93 4,441,370 20.9
Kings, NY 48 2,621,793 18.3
Queens, NY 39 2,321,580 16.8
Cook, IL 64 5,246,456 12.2

As you might expect, many of the counties on the list are among the nation's most populous, including L.A. and San Diego.

To be sure, L.A. remains a dangerous place for pedestrians. The fatality rates of children and elderly pedestrians in serious crashes in the City of Los Angeles is higher than the national average. The city's Vision Zero initiative is trying to cut the number of traffic deaths to zero by 2025 — an ambitious goal.

So L.A. County can be dangerous for pedestrians. But is it the single most dangerous? Not really.