In a recent study, by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, experts found that Black people represent the largest racial group killed in traffic deaths.
To put this in perspective, approximately 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020, which is the largest projected number of deaths since 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The number of Black people who died in those crashes, unequivocally rose 23% from 2019, which was just one year prior.
Norman Garrick, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Connecticut, said “the numbers are saddening, but not surprising,” according to MSN News.
“Black people tend to be over-represented as walkers in this country,” Garrick said. “This is not by choice. In many cases, Black folks cannot afford motor vehicles. And people that walk in this country tend to experience a much, much higher rate of a traffic fatality. We’re talking eight to 10 times more. It’s a perfect storm of a lot of horrible forces.”
Though there was less traffic in 2020 due to the pandemic, there were still underdeveloped roadways, lack of safety signage, and easy access to areas of waste in impoverished areas, where mostly Blacks and Latinos live in.
Calvin Gladney, president of Smart Growth America, said “the pandemic has only exacerbated the longstanding problem. There are three major reasons Black people bear the brunt of roadway injuries: infrastructure, design, and racism.”
“These fatalities have been going upward for a decade,” Gladney said. “You go to Black and Brown communities, you go to lower-income communities and you don’t see many sidewalks. You don’t see as many pedestrian crossings. The types of streets that go through Black and Brown neighborhoods are like mini highways where the speed limit is 35 or 45. You see this disproportionately in Black and brown communities often because of race-based decisions of the past.”
The reality is there is a serious safety issue and it comes from racism. Although the problems are deeply embedded they are still fixable, but action needs to be taken seriously and sooner than later.
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