Roadway deaths on the rise in the US while declining in most rich countries
Among rich countries, America is one of the most dangerous for road users especially pedestrians and cyclists. In The Exceptionally American Problem of Rising Roadway Deaths, an article recently published by the New York Times,Emily Badger and take an in-depth look at road fatalities in the US compared to other rich countries. They found out that during the Covid19 crisis, most countries in the world saw a decline in fatalities with the exception of the United States, Switzerland and Ireland. When comparing national traffic fatalities in 2020 to an average yearly traffic fatalities in 2017 to 2019 , Italy, Hungary, Turkey, Spain, France and Sweden all saw a decline or more than 20% in road fatalities. Italy recorded a 27% decline in traffic fatalities while the united States had a 5% rise in traffic fatalities.
While most rich countries have developed bicycle and pedestrian friendly infrastructures over the last decade, the United States did not do as much
While many countries started to take measures to protect pedestrians and cyclists such as protected bike lanes, lowering of speed limits and adopting safe vehicle technologies such as automatic braking systems, cars got bigger and deadlier in the United States.
While France and the United States had a similar amount of road fatalities per capita in 1990, American people are now 3 times as likely to die in a traffic accident than French people. Since 1994, statistics indicate that, in the US, motorcyclist deaths increased by 140%, pedestrian fatalities by 19%, cyclist deaths by 17% and driver fatalities by 10%. The only category of road users that experienced a decline in fatalities were passengers with a 42% decline.
While some federal money is being invested in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure following the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, steps undertaken by the US to make roads safer remain quite modest compared to most other rich countries.