More people are now killed on the country’s urban streets than on its rural roads, and speed is a major reason why. Speeding occurs on all road types, of course, but urban roads account for a disproportionate number of speeding-related deaths. Of the nearly 9, 500 fatal traffic crashes in 2019 in which speeding was cited as a factor, 54% occurred on urban roadways.
Those are the main findings of new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and education association that found that urban traffic fatalities now surpass those on rural roads.
“We have observed an alarming increase in the number and rate of fatal crashes on urban roads over the past ten years,” Woon Kim, senior researcher at the AAA Foundation, told Forbes, while those on rural roads have plateaued or are in a downward trend.”
Researchers for the study, “Traffic Fatalities on Urban Roads and Streets in Relation to Speed Limits and Speeding, United States, 2010–2019, ” used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a national census of fatal traffic crashes.
Prior to 2015, traffic fatalities in rural areas were higher than in urban areas, but researchers found that between 2010 and 2019, fatalities in urban areas increased 34%, while those in rural areas decreased 10%. Urban fatalities surpassed those in rural areas in 2016; by 2019, 19,595 people were killed in urban locations compared to 16,340 in the countryside.
“Many urban streets in metropolitan areas are busier, with a mix of road users such as drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists,” David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation, said in a statement. “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.”
Highlights from the report:
The recent spike in deaths is notable, as more than 70% of the 4 million miles of public-access roads in the United States are rural, according to the report, and the upward trend in urban crash projections is expected to rise as the number of people and miles driven increases in urban areas.
To read the full study, click here.