Why Are Pedestrian Deaths at Epidemic Levels?

Link: https://www.governing.com/now/why-are-pedestrian-deaths-at-epidemic-levels

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For years, transportation consultant and writer Angie Schmitt has tried to pick apart why it works that way and how the U.S. could become a less car-centric and less dangerous place. In 2020 she published Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America, an examination of the toll that the nation’s auto-centric infrastructure takes on those who are not encased in steel and glass when they travel.

Schmitt found that even as reported rates of walking among Americans have been on the decline, pedestrian deaths have surged in recent years. Between 2009 and 2019, total driving miles increased by 10 percent but pedestrian deaths increased by 50 percent. In Europe, by contrast, they fell by 36 percent over the last decade. Since then, the U.S. toll has only grown worse.

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Schmitt: Design is important, but I think we also need to change cars. We can go a lot of the way there just with better vehicle safety regulations. The RAND Corporation estimated we could be saving at least 10,000 lives a year, maybe 20,000, if we were requiring some existing vehicle technologies in all cars like automatic emergency braking. Or blind spot detection and alcohol ignition interlocks. A combination of things like that already exists, and we could save tens of thousands of lives. We’re just not doing it. There’s been so little attention paid, it’s been hard to generate political will.

Author(s): Jake Blumgart

Publication Date: 23 July 2021

Publication Site: Governing

Update to Special Reports on Traffic Safety During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: Fourth Quarter Data

Link: https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.gov/files/2021-06/Update_Traffic%20Safety%20During%20COVID-19_4thQtr-060121-web.pdf

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The NEMSIS data include metrics on crash severity. For people treated at the scenes of motor vehicle crashes, EMS professionals use an injury scoring system called the Revised Trauma Score (RTS) to determine the level of care needed to save the lives of the injured. Under
RTS, patients who present with a probability of survival of 36.1% or less are considered severely injured and are often transported to Level 1 or Level 2 trauma centers that provide higher levels of critical care to the most severely injured. Figure 4 shows the percentage of
patients in crashes whose probability of survival was in this range for 2019 and 2020. Beginning in Week 12 of 2020, the percentage of those injured with a probability of survival of 36.1% or less never dropped below 1%, suggesting an increase in the severity of crashes.

Publication Date: June 2021

Publication Site: NHTSA

2020 Fatality Data Show Increased Traffic Fatalities During Pandemic

Link: https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/2020-fatality-data-show-increased-traffic-fatalities-during-pandemic

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Preliminary finding show that traffic fatalities rose in most major categories over 2019: 

Passenger vehicle occupants (23,395, up 5%)

Pedestrians (6,205, flat from 2019)

Motorcyclists (5,015, up 9%)

Pedalcyclists (people on bikes) (846, up 5%)

Crash factors and demographics reviewed by NHTSA that showed the largest increases in 2020 as compared to 2019 included: 

non-Hispanic Black people (up 23%); 

occupant ejection (up 20%);

unrestrained occupants of passenger vehicles (up 15%);

on urban interstates (up 15%);

on urban local/collector roads (up 12%);

in speeding-related crashes (up 11%);

on rural local/collector roads (up 11%); 

during nighttime (up 11%); 

during the weekend (up 9%); 

in rollover crashes (up 9%); 

in single-vehicle crashes (up 9%) and; 

in police-reported alcohol involvement crashes (up 9%).

There are a few categories that are projected to have decreases in fatalities in 2020. Fatalities in crashes involving a large truck (commercial or non-commercial use) are projected to decline marginally (down 2%).  Fatalities among older persons (65+ years of age) are projected to decline by about 9 percent.

Publication Date: 3 June 2021

Publication Site: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration