A rising number of cars are hitting pedestrians in Central Ohio, and the number of pedestrian fatalities in 431 such crashes last year rose to 23.

A recent article in The Columbus Dispatch examined the situation and compared Columbus-area numbers with those of other Ohio cities. Columbus TV station WSYX spoke with MORPC and others about the trends. Stephen Patchan, MORPC assistant director of Planning & Sustainability, explained that higher speeds increase the likelihood of deaths in crashes.

MORPC, as an advocate for complete streets policies and active transportation plans, wants to see those numbers go down. The traditional strategy is to promote greater awareness and caution among drivers and walkers.

On the other hand, the region’s growing population gives MORPC and area communities a chance to promote types of growth and development that improve walkability and can create better harmony among different modes of transportation. Through initiatives such as insight2050 and Corridor Concepts, communities can seek the right balance.

According to MORPC’s Central Ohio Transportation Safety Plan 2019, pedestrians accounted for less than 1 percent of units involved in the region’s crashes from 2013 to 2017, but represented more than 12 percent of serious injuries and fatalities. Speeding tends to be underreported in crash data because crashes are classified as speed-related only if the reporting officer indicated that the at-fault driver was exceeding the speed limit. Despite the underreporting, speed-related crashes still account for 24.8 percent of fatal crashes and 17.4 percent of serious injuries in the study period.