MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - October is Pedestrian Safety Month and safety experts rank Memphis among the most dangerous cities in the country for pedestrians.
The last two weeks have shown why that is.
At least seven pedestrians have been hit by vehicles in Memphis and at least three of them have died, according to information shared by Memphis Police.
Data shows 42 pedestrians have been killed in Shelby County this year.
Memphis Police say a driver hit a pedestrian walking along this road in South Memphis Tuesday night.
They say the driver did not stay at the scene.
The pedestrian died a short time later at the hospital.
“It’s a problem pretty much in all parts of the city,” said Nicholas Oyler, the Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Manager for the City of Memphis.
It’s his job to help find ways to make Memphis streets safer for everyone, especially pedestrians.
Oyler says a lack of sidewalks and crosswalks, especially in lower-income neighborhoods, is one reason Memphis can be a dangerous city for pedestrians.
“Because we have more people walking in these areas, we tend to see high numbers of pedestrian crashes,” said Olyer.
But he says the pandemic has only made the problem worse.
“People aren’t driving on the streets as much as they were. The result is our streets tend to be more open, less traffic. When you have conditions like that, people feel more comfortable speeding,” said Olyer. “The more they speed, the more dangerous it is to be on the road.”
This year is the most dangerous year in over a decade.
Data from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security shows 42 pedestrians have been killed in Shelby County this year, the highest number in over a decade.
Olyer says the City of Memphis has been working to improve pedestrian safety, including by slowing traffic in certain areas, reducing the number of travel lanes, and adding crosswalks.
He says there’s still work to do and everyone, especially drivers, plays an important part.
“Slow down. Go the speed limit,” said Olyer. “You’re keeping everyone safer by doing so.”
The city is seeking citizen input on several street resurfacing projects, which include redesigns to improve safety.
The surveys can be found here.