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.
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.