Rural roads are among America’s most deadly

About 75% of all roads in the United States, around 3 million miles, are in rural areas and are vital for transporting goods and connecting communities. The likelihood that a car crash will result in death is higher in rural America, even with less than one fifth of the population living in these areas. 85,002 people were killed on rural roads between 2016 and 2020, and according to a new study published by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the risk of dying in a car crash was 62% higher on a rural road compared to an urban road for trips of the same length.

Big data sheds new light on the pedestrian safety crisis

Federal crash data released just this past April confirms what earlier reports had already suggested: 2020 was the deadliest year for walking in the past three decades, marking a 50 percent increase in just 10 years. A new report analyzing the data calls out the most dangerous cities and states across the country, while leveraging emerging data sources to understand how increased walking may have contributed to pedestrian deaths during the unique pandemic conditions of 2020.

Facilities for walking and biking can increase safety, but intersections still lag

The death of a well-known cyclist in Phoenix, Arizona, persuaded the city DOT to scrap changes it had proposed for an essential local street, in favor of protected bike lanes. As the Phoenix New Times reported, the death of a cyclist and downtown ambassador in central Phoenix galvanized supporters to call for protected bike lanes in the area of the crash. The city Street Transportation Department moved away from installing lanes shared by drivers and bicyclists, to painted, buffered bicycle lanes, and, on some blocks, fully protected bike lanes.

Active transportation fatalities spike again

Although cars are getting safer, saving drivers and passengers from dying on our roads and highways, the number of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths are increasing dramatically. The latest numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Safety Facts show that while overall 2018 traffic fatalities decreased about one percent compared to 2017, pedestrian and bicyclist deaths increased four and ten percent, respectively.

Safety and speed management: Speeding into a crash?

According to a recent study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in the past 25 years 37,000 additional people have died due to increased speed limits in the United States. Meanwhile, Canada is taking a very different approach to speed, as detailed in the April issue of ITE Journal, which is dedicated to safety through speed management.

Houston paper: Metro area worst in nation for traffic fatalities, speeding at fault

Reporters from the Houston Chronicle looked at 16 years of national data for traffic fatalities, and they were shocked by the statistics for their area. Houston has the deadliest overall traffic safety record for the 12 largest metro areas studied, and ranks in the top half in all categories of crashes. They identify speeding as the principal factor in the region’s safety problems, although a number of factors combine to make the area deadly.

U.S. traffic fatalities rise while international numbers improve

A new report by the International Transport Forum highlights how the United States is losing the battle to reduce traffic fatalities, while other countries improve their safety records. Out of 41 countries contributing to the International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group, most reported a reduction in traffic fatalities between 2010 and 2016. The U.S. was in the small group that had an increase. And in an interview, Neil Arason from the British Columbia Ministry of Health discusses about why Canada has a better traffic safety record than the U.S.

SUVs are killing us

As noted in a previous SSTI post, the rise of SUVs and other light trucks as personal vehicles has been identified as a contributing factor to the startling rise in pedestrian fatalities since 2009. Researchers, auto makers, and regulatory agencies have known for years about this increased risk to pedestrians, but disagree about how to mitigate the dangers. In an in-depth but very readable article, the Detroit Free Press and USA Today outlined the consequences of increasing popularity of light trucks as personal vehicles and looked at the industry and government responses, both within the U.S. and in Europe.

Phoenix struggles with its pedestrian safety record

Phoenix has an exceptionally high rate of pedestrian fatalities compared to the rest of the country. It looked like the city was ready to tackle this problem, with a city staff naming 11 intersections and neighborhoods to study that had poor and unsafe pedestrian conditions. However, the citizen committee named to guide passage of a design guide to make the streets safer has become so frustrated with the lack of progress that they have quit en masse. What have other cities done when they have found themselves with a mounting pedestrian fatality rate and a reputation as a dangerous place to walk?