African Americans are More Likely to Die in Traffic Accidents, Report Finds
Empty highways after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 raised the prospect of fewer deaths. These hopes proved to be illusory as fatalities on the roads spiked. The figures from last year also revealed African Americans are more likely to die in traffic accidents.
African Americans represented the most significant increase in traffic deaths last year, even though fewer Americans drove due to the pandemic, according to recently released data.
Last month, NBC News reported about 38,680 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in 2020 nationwide. The figure is the highest number of deaths in more than a decade, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. America’s roads have not seen such a high death toll since 2007.
The number of African Americans who died in car, truck, and motorcycle crashes increased 23 percent over 2019, the largest rise in traffic deaths among racial groups. The report found the number of deaths in the ethnic group rose during most months from March to December 2020.
Cause of Increase in Car Accident Deaths in African Americans
Norman Garrick, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Connecticut, suggested the rise in African American deaths coincides with the increasing number of pedestrians who are losing their lives in America.
He said more African Americans cannot afford vehicles. “People that walk in this country tend to experience a much, much higher rate of traffic fatality. We’re talking eight to 10 times more. It’s a perfect storm of a lot of horrible forces,” he told ABC News.
African Americans were more likely to lose their lives in traffic accidents before the pandemic, although COVID appeared to exacerbate the problem. From 2010-2109, African American pedestrians were 82 percent more likely to be struck by drivers, according to a report from Smart Growth America.
Neighborhoods African Americans live in are less likely to have crosswalks, sidewalks, warning signs, and other safety features, according to Smart Growth America while these communities bear the brunt of racism. The communities are also often split in half by fast-moving urban highways such as Jefferson Avenue in Newport News and Tidewater Drive in Norfolk.
Calvin Gladney, president of Smart Growth America, said small policy changes such as lowering speed limits in certain areas, could save hundreds of lives. He told NBC News:
“The pandemic illuminated issues that people have been ignoring. These are the same streets and the same roads that have always been there. If we have intentionality to get to racial equity and close the disparities, we actually can fix this.”
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has in the past addressed racial disparities in pedestrian safety, highlighting research that found it’s far more dangerous for African Americans, American Indians, and Alaska Natives to be pedestrians than for Caucasians.
Pedestrians continue to die at an alarming rate in Virginia. The state recently beefed up its crosswalk laws to afford more protection to walkers. We are deeply concerned to read that African Americans are more likely to die in traffic accidents. If you have lost a loved one or suffered an injury on the roads of Virginia, please call our Norfolk-based injury lawyers for a free consultation.