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.


DDOT Hosts Pop-Up Events to Improve Pedestrian Experience in “Downtown West”

Downtown West Transportation Study

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) invites the community to three “pop-up style” public engagement events on Thursday, October 20, 2016 from 8am to 6pm to view and provide feedback on draft alternatives for the Downtown West Transportation Planning Study. The rain date is Thursday, October 27.

WHAT: Downtown West Transportation Planning Study Public Engagement Events
WHEN: Thursday, October 20, 2016, 8 am to 6 pm
WHERE: 8 am to 10 am, Southeast corner of Pennsylvania Ave., NW & 22nd St., NW
11 am to 2 pm, Farmers Market on the 800 block of Vermont Avenue NW
4 pm to 6 pm, Northwest corner of Pennsylvania Ave. NW & 19th St., NW

The Downtown West Study aims to improve east-west travel for cyclists, pedestrians and buses. The study area includes the following:

Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 17th Street and Washington Circle
H and I Streets NW between New York Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue

Downtown West study areaThe project will include the development of alternatives for a separated bicycle lane and pedestrian improvements on Pennsylvania Avenue NW and evaluation of a contraflow bus lane on H Street NW.

TRANSIT: Metrorail: Foggy Bottom, Farragut West or McPherson Square stations.

Visit the study’s website for more information. Materials from the events will be made available on the DDOT website at the meeting’s conclusion.

If you need special accommodations or language assistance services (translation or interpretation), contact Megan Kanagy at (202) 671-1598 or megan.kanagy@dc.gov by October 13. These services will be provided free of charge.

DC Fixes Contributory Negligence Law!

All Walks DC and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association advocating for the Contributory Negligence law to be fixed.

All Walks DC and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association advocating for the law to be fixed.


On October 4, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a bill that would change DC law to allow a pedestrian or bicyclist injured in a crash to recover damages so long as they are less than 50 percent at fault for the crash. Before the law was changed, the District was one of five jurisdictions in the country that prohibited any recovery by a pedestrian or bicyclist injured in a crash if they had any degree of fault, even if the driver was at greater fault.

The other states still following a so-called contributory negligence standard are Alabama, North Carolina, and the District’s neighbors Virginia and Maryland.

The bill, known as the Motor Vehicle Collision Recovery Act  (B21-0004), was sponsored by Councilmembers Mary Cheh, Charles Allen, Anita Bonds, Jack Evans, and David Grosso. It passed the DC Council on September 20 by a unanimous vote.

According to the District’s Department of Transportation, on average, 265 bicycle and 600 pedestrian crashes are reported to the Metropolitan Police Department each year.

Pedestrian safety and bicycling advocates in DC have worked since 2014, when another version of the bill was pending, to enact the legislation. Insurance groups and AAA-Atlantic opposed the bills, arguing that they would increase auto insurance premiums.

The measure now goes to the U.S. Congress for a thirty-day review period. A copy of the signed bill is available here.

More information about the bill is available here.