Lucy 2003 - “Mortality Risk Associated With Leaving Home: Recognizing the Relevance of the Built Environment”

Lucy, William H.
“Mortality Risk Associated With Leaving Home: Recognizing the Relevance of the Built Environment”
American Journal of Public Health
September 2003; v.93,n.9; pp.1564-1569
On the Web
Relevance: high

In looking traffic fatalities and homicides by stranger in 15 metropolitan areas, Lucy concluded that traffic fatalities pose a real danger to living in low density areas that should be balanced against the expected lower crime risk.  In short, he found that exurban areas were often more dangerous than central cities or inner suburbs, primarily due to the higher risk of traffic fatalities.  Low-density, outer counties had the most traffic fatalities and homicides by stranger while some inner suburban counties were the least dangerous areas overall.

From data on 50 counties and cities in 7 metropolitan areas in Virginia, Lucy found that:

  • "For the 27 counties with population densities from 0.1 to 0.9 persons per acre, the mean rate of traffic fatalities and homicides by strangers was 5.2 per 10,000 residents (median=4.9). For the 23 cities and counties with population densities of 1.0 to 11.4 persons per acre, the mean was 1.9 (median=1.5)."
  • Of the 24 most dangerous jurisdictions in the Virginia dataset, only 3 (one being Washington, DC) had a population density greater than 0.6 persons per acre; most had a density of 0.1-0.2.

From data on 8 other metropolitan areas (including Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, Philadelphia), Lucy found similar results:

  • The 15 most dangerous jurisdictions were low-density (0.1-0.4 persons/acre, exurban counties;
  • "n the 39 counties with population densities of from 0.1 to 0.9 person per acre, the mean rate of traffic fatalities and homicides by strangers was 1.9 (median=1.6), whereas for the 30 cities and counties with densities of from 1.0 to 19.9, the mean combined fatality rate was 1.3 (median=1.0)."

 

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