Pedestrian deaths in Shelby County on pace with last year’s record numbers

Published: Oct. 10, 2021 at 2:35 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The number of pedestrians killed on Memphis roadways is on track to tie or break last year’s record.

The latest pedestrian death happened around 4:30 a.m. Sunday in South Memphis.

Memphis police say it was a hit and run near South Third and Maryland Avenue.

Investigators say an unknown vehicle struck and killed a woman as she crossed the street outside the crosswalk.

While the nearest crosswalk in this case was two blocks away, experts say a lack of convenient crosswalks and sidewalks, especially in lower-income neighborhoods, means people often make the risky decision to jaywalk.

“Because we have more people walking in these areas we tend to see high numbers of pedestrian crashes,” Nicholas Olyer with the City of Memphis told Action News 5 last year.

Smart Growth for America, which earlier this year ranked Memphis third most dangerous metropolitan area in the U.S. for pedestrians, says a major problem is local and state transportation planners in states across the country put a higher value on speed than the safety of pedestrians.

“Pedestrian convenience is never thought of at all,” said Beth Osborne with Smart Growth America. “[They] weigh the safety of those outside of the car against the convenience of the driver in saving a little bit of time.”

Smart Growth America says transportation leaders must acknowledge their approach plays a role in pedestrian deaths, which are on the rise in Memphis.

According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, 43 pedestrians have been killed in Shelby County so far this year.

Last year at this time there were also 43 reported pedestrian deaths.

In 2020, a total of 66 pedestrians were killed in Shelby County, which is a 74% increase from the previous year (38) and a 450% increase from 2012 (12).

As for Sunday’s deadly hit and run, police urge anyone with information to contact CrimeStoppers.

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