New data about car accidents in the United States paints a bleak picture about roadway safety here compared to abroad: While the U.S. was once among the safest places to travel, it now has a higher rate of fatalities from road accidents than any other rich nation in the world.
According to one analysis, America’s car-centric transportation policies are to blame, as the roadway deaths disproportionately affect pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
Roadway Fatalities are a Uniquely American Issue
Back in the 1990s, the United States was comparable to other rich nations in roadway fatalities with around 150 deaths per million people, nearly the same rate as in France. This was down significantly from the late 1970s, when both countries had close to 225 deaths per million.
Now, though, the rate in the U.S. is around 125 per million, while in France it is under 50. In the past 5 years, the rate has gotten worse in the U.S., while it has improved in France and nearly every other developed country.
People Inside Vehicles are Safer Than Ever in America
Complicating the statistics is the fact that, since 1994, when U.S. deaths dropped 17.3 percent from 150 to 125 per million, driver fatalities dropped 10 percent and passenger fatalities dropped 42 percent.
Meanwhile, cyclist fatalities increased 17 percent and pedestrian deaths increased 19 percent. Motorcyclist fatalities increased an astounding 140 percent, though motorcycle registrations also doubled between 2002 and 2020.
Some of the most dangerous cities in the country for pedestrians and cyclists were those that grew after cars became ubiquitous, like Tampa Bay and Orlando.
Other Countries Made Cars Safer and Then Kept Going
One analysis explains the discrepancies between Americans inside and outside of motor vehicles, and between the U.S. and other developed countries, as the result of America’s car-first transportation policy.
Starting in the 1990s, the U.S. and other countries took steps to combat deadly roads by improving car safety by, for example, enforcing seatbelt laws and making airbags standard.
However, once those solutions began to produce results, other countries continued to improve road safety by focusing on the people outside vehicles, as well. They built more separated bike lanes and adopted roundabouts, which replace intersections and drastically reduce the dangers inherent in these risky areas.
In the U.S., meanwhile, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) became increasingly popular, increasing the weight of the average motor vehicle and the severity of the injuries that crash with an unprotected person could cause. The safety focus on vehicle occupants is even apparent in the federal vehicle safety ratings, which only consider the safety of the vehicle’s occupants, not the dangers that the vehicle poses to the others that it might hit.
Car Accident Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve Victims in St. Joseph
Whether you were a pedestrian, bicyclist, or motorcyclist, if you get hit and hurt by a motor vehicle, you deserve compensation. Call the personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office at (816) 875-9373 or contact them online for legal representation.