A UWM study reveals the demographics of who is often behind auto-pedestrian accidents in Milwaukee
A study from UW-Milwaukee looked closer at the characteristics of who is causing accidents involving automobiles and pedestrians. It is generally found that Milwaukee pedestrians are more likely to be hit by a vehicle driven by someone not living in the city.
The study also indicates that communities most heavily impacted are disproportionately communities of color. Tony Giron, the engagement manager at Milwaukee County Parks is one of the co-authors of the study.
He along with Xiaohan Gu and Robert Schneider found that drivers who hit pedestrians are generally older, of higher income and more likely to be white. The study compiles and analyzes data from police-reported pedestrian crashes from 2011-2015. They collected age, sex, home addresses, statistical differences, and census tract data between drivers and pedestrians.
They found that more drivers living outside of the city of Milwaukee crashed into Milwaukeean pedestrians. Giron mentioned that 25% of drivers who lived outside of the city hit Milwaukee pedestrians, versus 10% of drivers who lived within the city hit pedestrians who lived outside of it. Most crash sites are areas of heavy traffic within the city, such as along Fond Du Lac, National Avenue, or I-43.
Giron explains that one of the most significant findings from the report is that drivers from higher-income tracts were more likely to strike pedestrians from lower-income tracts—85% of the drivers come from higher-income tracts compared to the struck pedestrians.
Another statistic revealed that 27% of adult drivers crashed into pedestrians younger than 18 years of age, indicating that children and teens are impacted by reckless driving.
While an increase in pedestrian-auto accidents is not specific to Milwaukee, over the last decade, the issue is substantial compared to similar metropolitan areas.
"People who are are of lower income...are often people of color and they travel more locally. So, they might live within their neighborhood and have a job within their neighborhood and be more at risk of getting hit by crossing these major highways," he says.
When analyzing the indicators from the data, Giron offered some possible explanations. He says, "So what we could be doing as planners and engineers is to identify when and where there is a higher pedestrian risk. Over my years of being an urban planner, I've realized that the most impactful thing that we can do is engineer our streets to be safer for people walking and biking."
He continues, "The truth is we do have a reckless driving problem in Milwaukee more so than in other Midwestern cities. Everybody should have the right and privilege to be able to feel safe in their neighborhoods and cross the street safely and not feel in danger for their life."