Vox Reports US Falling Behind Peer Countries in Preventing Traffic Fatalities

Road Fatality US versus Peer Countries

Figure via Vox

A Vox Media article reports that the US is falling behind its peer countries in preventing traffic fatalities. Low gas prices are thought to be responsible for a recent increase in US traffic fatalities from the 2012 low of 33,500. Interesting, research suggests distracted driving has not increased in recent years.

The article claims that countries with the lowest fatality rates:

a) live more compactly,
b) design roads to favor more vulnerable users such as bikers and pedestrians, and
c) enact laws and regulations that also favor these vulnerable road users.

The article cites DC as an example of an American city making some changes to reduce our traffic fatality rate, such as providing designated space for bicycling, which has an added benefit of slowing down car traffic. Speed plays a particular role in fatalities, as shown in the following graphic.

higher speeds lead to more deaths

via #Love30 Canada

But US engineering standards still promote wide, straight streets that encourage high speeds, even in cities where children play and people walk to get to where they’re going.

DC has already lost 9 pedestrians on our streets this year, and more must be done to slow down vehicle traffic and provide safe places for people to walk or roll and to cross streets.


Washington Post Calls Attention to Bad Month for Pedestrians in the Region

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-2-31-27-pmIn an article by Dana Hedgpeth, the Washington Post called attention to eight pedestrian deaths that occurred in DC, Maryland, and Virginia in August. In DC, Armin Amin was killed while crossing the street after leaving his restaurant, Chaplin’s, in Shaw. The following night, David Narvaez, who was bartending while training to become a financial analyst, was killed in an unsolved hit and run in Dupont Circle.

From the article:

Officials point to various causes, including speeding, intoxicated drivers, pedestrians darting across roads, and drivers and pedestrians distracted by electronic devices.

Nationwide, lower gas prices and upticks in the economy may be putting more drivers on the road, transportation experts say, while a push to encourage “walkable communities” — where people walk, bike and ride public transportation — has more pedestrians afoot.

Adjusting to the shift involves engineering such additions as medians and traffic lights, enforcing traffic laws, and educating drivers and pedestrians.

Just this weekend, an unidentified pedestrian was struck and killed by a U-haul truck at 4th Street Northeast and New York Avenue, a 6-lane road cutting through the neighborhood where Union Market has become a popular destination to visit on foot.

The mayor and council have committed to reducing pedestrian deaths like those of Amin, Narvaez and this weekend’s victim. This will require an investment in infrastructure designed to keep people safe while they walk or roll. That means streets that limit driving speeds and improved crossings where pedestrians have ample time to cross and can easily be seen.

All Walks DC advocates for citywide solutions to make the District of Columbia a place where walking is celebrated and respected as a basic human right. It is run entirely by a small group of dedicated volunteers and every donation counts towards helping us continue advocating for pedestrian safety. Donations can be made here.