Report: MA Fatal Pedestrian Crashes Up 35%; More than 70% Occurred in Environmental Justice Neighborhoods

Report: MA Fatal Pedestrian Crashes Up 35%; More than 70% Occurred in Environmental Justice Neighborhoods


Jovanny Rosado

Report: MA Fatal Pedestrian Crashes Up 35%; More than 70% Occurred in Environmental Justice Neighborhoods

WalkBoston calls on MassDOT to release an action plan for safe streets, and for the legislature to fund staff and resources to support eliminating fatal crashes

BOSTON (March 30, 2023) – A report released today by WalkBoston, a statewide pedestrian advocacy organization, shows fatal pedestrian crashes in Massachusetts are up by 35% in 2022 compared to 2021, with 71% of crashes taking place in Environmental Justice Census Block Groups. 

Fatal Pedestrian Crashes in MA (2022) also shows that of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, 60 had a fatal pedestrian crash in 2022, and older adults were hit and killed at a higher rate than those in other age groups. 

“The sharp rise in fatal crashes is extremely troubling,” said Brendan Kearney, Deputy Director of WalkBoston. “Unsafe road design is creating fatal consequences for communities across the Commonwealth. Designing our streets to reduce illegal speeding — targeting the most dangerous locations first for fixes — will save lives.”

Of the 101 fatal pedestrian crashes, 72 occurred in Environmental Justice neighborhoods. In 2021, the legislature passed An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for MA Climate Policy, which defines an Environmental Justice (EJ) Population as an area meeting state criteria related to household income, higher minority populations, and higher populations for whom English is a second language. 

“Residents in environmental justice neighborhoods deserve the ability to walk and move through their community without the threat of being hit and killed by someone operating a vehicle,” said Tahara Samuel, Community Planning Manager of Madison Park Development Corporation. “The findings in the report that more people have died in fatal crashes this year than last should be a wake up call for state and municipal leaders that the status quo is not working. We agree with WalkBoston that the Commonwealth needs to prioritize protecting people and designing our streets to ensure safe streets for all. The City of Boston can start with the upcoming Roxbury Corridors project, a chance to hear from community members on how to make investments to fix Warren Street, Malcolm X Boulevard, and Melnea Cass Boulevard.”

Similar to the concerning trend found in last year’s version of this report, older adults were hit and killed at a higher rate than those in other age groups: 38% of fatal crash victims were over the age of 65. In Massachusetts, only 17% of the population is over 65, yet people 50 and over made up over 65% of pedestrian crash deaths in 2022.

“Nearly everyone is a pedestrian at some point in the day. Safer streets mean more people remain in their current homes or community as they age, said Mike Festa, State Director of AARP Massachusetts. “An age friendly community means complete, smartly planned streets, and transportation options are great for people of all ages; A street that’s safe for a 70-year-old to cross to shop is safe for a 7-year-old walking to school. What this new report shows us is that we can and must do better to make roads safer for all residents of the Commonwealth.” 

WalkBoston calls upon MassDOT, the legislature, and local municipalities to take immediate actions to create safer streets:

  • MassDOT recently released a Strategic Highway Safety Plan featuring sections on implementing speed management and addressing top-risk locations and populations. MassDOT must hasten efforts to release an Action Plan based on the Strategic Highway Safety Plan. 
  • It is crucial to identify how these recommendations will be implemented and funded by the legislature. 
  • Every municipality that has experienced a fatal crash should take steps to become an Age-Friendly Community. According to data from AARP, the population of the United States is rapidly aging, and by 2030, one of every five people in the U.S. will be 65 or older.

60 Massachusetts cities and towns had at least one fatal pedestrian crash in 2022. Of those, 19 municipalities had multiple fatal crashes: Boston (12), Worcester (7), Chicopee (5), Brockton, Framingham, Lowell, Springfield (3/each); Cambridge, Dedham, Easthampton, Gardner, Haverhill, Holyoke, New Bedford, Quincy, Salem, Sharon, West Springfield, Yarmouth (2/each). 

Additionally, 60% of Massachusetts’ fatal pedestrian crashes occurred in the dark (before sunrise or after sunset). And 10 (9.8%) were hit and run crashes in which the driver left the scene of the crash.

The report reviews fatal pedestrian crash data released on the MassDOT IMPACT Crash Portal and Fatal Crash Information Dashboard. The locations were cross-referenced in the MassDOT Road Inventory Tool to determine the road jurisdiction and speed limit. Google Street View was used to find additional local context.



View the full report

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