21 December 2007

Exurb More Dangerous than City

A five year old study I just found says that you are more likely to be killed going about your daily grind in exurbia than you are in older suburb or a city. They used statistics on traffic fatalities and homicides by strangers. These two items combined are higher in the outlying areas than in the urban areas studied. Not the most comprehensive study, but interesting nonetheless.
Leaving home to go to work and other activities is more dangerous for residents of outer suburban areas than for many central city residents and for nearly all inner suburban residents, concludes a recent University of Virginia study.

From Baltimore to Minneapolis to Houston, some sparsely settled outer suburban counties are the most dangerous parts of their metropolitan areas, according to a study by William H. Lucy, professor of urban and environmental planning at U.Va., and graduate research assistant Raphael Rabalais. Their findings are contrary to the conventional wisdom that cities are dangerous and outer suburbs are safe.
The study analyzed traffic fatalities and homicides by strangers to test the common belief that outer suburban areas with low-density housing and quasi-rural settings are safer places to live and raise children than cities and inner suburbs.

Potential dangers in any residential location arise from leaving home to travel to work, shop, attend school, attend church, visit friends, or go to civic functions and family gatherings. Tabulating traffic fatalities is the best method of measuring these dangers, the researchers concluded.

They also examined homicides by strangers, because they are the murders most likely to be associated with going about one’s routine business out of the home, and they may be related to proximity to dangerous areas. FBI data indicate, however, that only 17 percent of homicides grew out of felony circumstances, such as robberies and drug law violations, in 1999.
Greater danger in fringe locations in metropolitan areas was caused mainly by the large number of traffic fatalities compared with homicides, and the greater difference between traffic fatalities and homicides by strangers.

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