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Mean Streets: Urban Traffic Fatalities Now Exceed Those on Rural Roads

Posted on September 8, 2022 in AAA Announcements

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research shows alarming trend

More people are now killed on the nation’s city streets than on rural roads and speeding is one of the most critical factors. Between 2010 and 2019, fatalities in urban areas surged 34% while those in rural areas fell 10%. Urban fatalities first surpassed those in rural areas in 2016, and 19,595 people were killed in urban locations compared to 16,340 in the countryside in 2019.

“Urban streets in metropolitan areas can be more dangerous because there are higher numbers of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists traveling those roadways,” said Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs, AAA East Central. “Speeding makes those busy streets even more treacherous, so everyone needs to be careful, pay attention to road conditions and follow traffic laws.”

According to Federal Highway Administration statistics, more than 70% of the four million miles of public-access roads in the United States are rural. Yet while speeding occurs on all roads, urban roads and streets account for a disproportionate number of speeding-related fatalities. The AAA Foundation study examines characteristics of deaths that happened on urban non-limited access roadways (not freeways, expressways, or interstates) from 2010 to 2019. Details of the Foundation research can be found here, but key highlights include:

According to new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates, 9,560 people died in motor-vehicle traffic crashes in the first quarter of 2022, a 7% increase compared to last year. It is the highest number of first-quarter fatalities since 2002. NHTSA reports 42,915 people died in traffic crashes last year, with speed-related crash fatalities rising by 5%. This research provides insights when it comes to the development of solutions to address the persistent speeding problem. It is important to understand the characteristics of the roadways, the motorists and the crashes.

AAA urges transportation engineers and decision-makers to consider speed management and prioritize safety when setting speed limits. This is critical for urban roads and streets where vehicles and vulnerable road users mix. AAA strongly supports adopting The Safe System Approach (SSA) to roadway safety. The SSA uses current effective countermeasures to create multiple layers of protection for transportation network users, rather than simply responding only after evidence of a specific safety problem.

Methodology

The Foundation used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a national census of fatal traffic crashes. Fatalities were considered speeding-related if any vehicle involved in the crash was reported to have exceeded the posted speed limit, drove too fast for conditions, or was racing.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 71 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members.  News releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com.  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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