Surging city traffic deaths now exceed fatalities on rural roads, study finds
A national census of fatal traffic crashes shows deaths in urban areas surged 34% between 2010 and 2019, while those in rural areas fell 10%.
NEW YORK – More people are now killed on city streets across America than on rural roads as speed plays a critical factor, a new traffic safety analysis finds.
And the upward trend in urban crash projections will rise as populations and vehicle miles traveled in those areas increase, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports.
A national census of fatal traffic crashes shows deaths in urban areas surged 34% between 2010 and 2019, while those in rural areas fell 10%. Since 2019, 19,595 people have been killed in urban locations compared to 16,340 in the countryside.
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And it's worth noting, AAA says, that more than 70% of the 4 million miles of public-access roads in the U.S. are rural, according to Federal Highway Administration statistics. Yet while speeding occurs on all routes, those in urban areas account for a "disproportionate number of speeding-related fatalities."
"Many urban streets in metropolitan areas are busier, with a mix of road users such as drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists," said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The study also found that collisions with pedestrians or bicyclists accounted for the most significant proportion of all fatalities (29%) regardless of speed in the city.
"Add in speed, and these locations grow more dangerous. When navigating urban streets, every user needs to be careful, pay attention to road conditions and follow traffic laws," Yang said.
Nearly half of all the deadly wrecks occurred on roads with speed limits of 35 mph or lower, according to AAA figures. One out of three victims – many of whom were male or young adults – died in crashes at speeds lower than 25 mph.
According to the latest federal estimates, 9,560 people died during the first three months of the year from motor vehicle traffic crashes. The 7% increase compared to last year is the highest first-quarter fatalities since 2002.