Feds: San Francisco Pedestrian Mortality Rate on Par with New York, Chicago

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    NBC 7 News
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    The common perception of San Francisco is that it's an unsafe place for people to walk.

    The January death of a 6-year-old girl crossing the street in the Tenderloin highlights that sentiment.

    But while the death of Sophia Liu is one pedestrian death too many for anyone, data revealed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Department of Transportation on Friday shows that San Francisco's per-capita pedestrian fatality rate is on par with New York and Chicago, two other large, walkable U.S. cities.

    A total 14 pedestrians, 1.7 out of every 100,000 San Franciscans, died in 2012, the data shows, compared to 28 pedestrians in Detroit, the city with the highest per-capita pedestrian death rate.

    In San Jose, 12 pedestrians died in 2012, meaning that the fatality rate was 1.2 per 100,000 people.

    Los Angeles, generally considered a pedestrian unfriendly city, saw 99 pedestrian deaths in 2012, or 2.57 out of 100,000 Angelenos.

    The federal government said it will take action to improve pedestrian safety in the wake a new report that says fatalities hit a five-year high in 2012.

    The NHTSA is awarding grants to three cities to increase public education aimed at improving pedestrian safety. Louisville, New York City and Philadelphia will receive a total of $1.6 million as part of the department's "Everyone is a Pedestrian" campaign to stymie the rise of pedestrian deaths.

    "These are parents, these are children, these are our fathers and mothers and grandparents who are being affect by traffic crashes when they're in their most vulnerable state," said David Friedman, the acting head of the NHTSA. "They don't have two tons of metal, glass and plastic surrounding them."

    There were 4,743 pedestrian deaths in the U.S., an increase of over 6 percent from the previous year, according to a new NHTSA report released on Friday. The number of pedestrian deaths increased every year since 2009.

    California - being the most populous state - had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities with 612 deaths in 2012, followed by Texas (478) and Florida (476). Nearly three-quarters of pedestrian deaths took place in urban areas and 70 percent occurred at non-intersections. This means jaywalkers were at a higher risk of dying than those who cross at proper intersections.

    The report also breaks down statistics by age, gender and time of day. Pedestrians ages 65 or older accounted for 20 percent of fatalities and about 9 percent of injuries. Nearly 70 percent of those killed were male and 32 percent of fatalities occur at night, according to the report, which includes data curated from the census bureau.

    Scroll down to see how your city stacks up:

    Sources: Census Bureau, NHTSA


    NBC Bay Area's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.