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.
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.
Streetsblog recently reported that Google, which is developing self-driving cars, has patented a “flypaper or double-sided duct tape”-like technology to stick pedestrians to the cars that hit them, hoping this will minimize injuries. When people walking are struck by people driving cars, they are sometimes injured further by then striking the pavement or being driven over by the cars. Google’s technology would instead adhere them to the cars following the initial impact. Seems like there’s a more obvious way to prevent pedestrian injuries—designing streets to keep automobile speeds down and minimize dangerous interactions between cars and people walking.
Streetsblog’s Angie Schmitt writes:
A much more important question for the impending autonomous car future is how these systems will minimize the potential for collisions with pedestrians in the first place. A fleet of robocars won’t need flypaper if they can’t exceed, say, 15 mph while operating on crowded city streets.
As technology changes in ways that affect the safety of people walking, you want a strong voice speaking up for your concerns in DC. Donate to All Walks DC now to fund our ongoing advocacy on behalf of pedestrians!