Newswise — Pedestrian injuries and fatalities in the U.S. have steadily increased during recent years. In 2015, 5,376 pedestrians were killed and 70,000 injured. Prior research showed an association between the number of neighborhood alcohol stores and risk of pedestrian injury. However, it is unclear whether this was because alcohol stores were located in dense retail areas with already-heavy pedestrian traffic, or whether alcohol stores pose a unique neighborhood risk. This study compared the number of pedestrian injuries that occur near alcohol stores to those that occur near similar retail stores that do not sell alcohol.

Researchers analyzed data associated with census blocks in Baltimore City. These included: emergency medical services related to pedestrian injuries from January 2014 to April 2015 (n=848); locations of alcohol stores licensed for off-premise consumption, such as liquor stores (n=726), and those licensed for on-premise consumption, such as restaurants (n=531); and locations of corner (n=398) and convenience stores (n=192) that did not sell alcohol.

The presence of off-premise alcohol stores was linked to a higher number of pedestrian injuries, even when controlling for other types of retail stores. Specifically, each additional off-premise alcohol store in a neighborhood was associated with a 12.3 percent increase in the rate of neighborhood pedestrian injuries, such as falls, traffic accidents, etc. These findings reinforce the importance of considering the impact of alcohol stores on health and safety issues, such as neighborhood pedestrian injury risk. The authors suggested that their findings can inform policy making related to liquor-store licensing, zoning, and enforcement.