Pedestrian deaths in Tucson on record pace

In effort to save lives, officials want to lower speed limit on busy streets to 30 mph

Push to reduce pedestrian deaths

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The number of pedestrian fatalities in Tucson continues to rise unabated as is on a record setting pace.

According to the Tucson Police Department, 23 pedestrians have died this year compared to only 18 at this time last year.

"We're losing too many pedestrians and bicycle rides to speed related crashes," said Ward 6 Tucson City Council member Steve Kozachik.

It adds fuel to the argument the city needs to lower its speed limits to save lives.

As KOLD News 13′s Karly Tinsley told you in May, lowering the speed limit even a little bit can greatly increase a pedestrian’s chance of surviving an accident.

According to a study from ProPublica, a 30-year-old pedestrian has a 97 percent chance of surviving an accident when the vehicle that hits them is going 20 mph. The chance of survival drops to 80 percent at 30 mph and 64 percent at 40 mph.

Kozachik has been one of the most outspoken local lawmakers about the speed limit/pedestrian issue.

“We have to set our speed limits to reflect reality,” he said. “The reality is, irrespective of whose fault it is, speed is a factor.”

That is something Tucson has been doing a baby step at a time.

It advocates lowering the speed limit 5 mph on many busy streets, from 35 down to 30.

"There is indisputable data that there is a direct correlation between speed and fatalities and the severity of injuries," Kozachik said.

The latest stretch of road to lower its speed limit will be voted on and likely approved by the council next week.

It’s a little more than a mile of Anklam Road, from St. Mary’s to Speedway.

It's at the confluence of a very busy Saint Mary's Hospital and a very popular hiking spot, Tumamoc Hill.

Tumamoc can be a dangerous spot because there's very little parking for the large number of people who hike the trail every day.

In the morning and evening hours, hikers will park in the hospital or medical office parking lots which means they will need to cross Anklam to start their walk.

There is no crosswalk, no HAWK light or other safety measure for the hikers.

"There have been a lot of near hit and misses," said Anthony Cahonis, who hikes here often. "There have been a lot of people honking their horns, going into other lanes."

He says he's nearly been a victim as well when crossing the road.

"A car was coming down way more than 35," he said. "I had my headphones in and if I didn't look both ways, I would have been hit."

Colton Charles said he looks for safe places to hike but he and his wife often use Tumamoc.

"I myself, often bring my little kids here," he said. "So with a stroller getting back and forth across the street, it's kind of dangerous some times."

He applauds the city for lowering the speed limit.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said.

Copyright 2019 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.