2017 Deadliest Year For Pedestrians

Posted: 9:43 PM, Nov 10, 2017
Updated: 2017-11-11 19:09:16Z

This year 19 pedestrians have died on Nashville roads, making 2017 the deadliest year on record. And the most dangerous weeks are still ahead of us.

Some advocates say it's time to call the problem what it really is: a crisis. And it's one that local groups are trying to fight, as they wait for the transit referendum.

Pedestrian infrastructure is a big part of the Mayor's $5 billion plan that will go before voters next year.

Nine years ago Fiona Flaherty had never been in a car accident. At 14 years old she couldn't yet drive. But she could walk.

"I was walking across the street right here and it was about at this point and there was this minivan that was making this left hand turn onto the street," she said, crossing 7th and Commerce with Traffic Anchor Rebecca Schleicher.

As a Hume Fogg freshman, she learned when drivers don't pay attention, even walking can be dangerous.

"She just drove right into the side of my body," Flaherty recalled, "I stepped back from the car and she just drove away as if nothing had happened."

It's a growing issue Walk Bike Nashville is trying to tackle with a grant from the state Highway Safety Office.

"We have a lot more people moving in, we have a lot more people walking and riding and taking the bus. And our streets haven't changed," said Walk Bike Nashville Director Nora Kern.

The new campaign called Look for Me highlights roads like Gallatin Ave, which turns into Main St. Turns out it's the most dangerous street for pedestrians in the city: 10 people dead in 6 years.

"It's a state highway, it's many lanes across, cars are going really fast and it's also a major bus corridor so this is one of the busies transit lines in the city," Kern said. That means many people need to cross the street, and often.

The campaign spans the web and ads are popping up across town, including on MTA buses and at bus stops, trying to convince drivers to help.

"We can all slow down, we can all put down our phones pay attention and really keep our eyes peeled for people walking," Kern said.

Flaherty hopes people start to change the way they drive. And that the city moves forward with safer infrastructure for pedestrians to cross the street.
If they don't then more and more people will learn what it's like to walk in her shoes. Or face something even worse.

"I was fortunate to be in the position I was in, but others haven't been (so lucky)," she said.

Despite the grim record for 2017, the year isn't over yet.

November and December are considered the most dangerous months. That's because it gets dark so much earlier, and 73 percent of all pedestrian deaths happen at night.