Black people faced largest increase in traffic deaths of any racial group in 2020

Infrastructure, design and racism said to contribute to high frequency of fatalities among minority groups

Louise Hall
Wednesday 23 June 2021 12:28
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Video shows fire engine after crashing through building in Philadelphia

Black people faced the largest increase in traffic deaths last year over any other racial group in the US, as fatalities continue to increase despite the coronavirus crisis, a new report has found.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 38,680 people died in motor traffic accidents in 2020, a seven per cent increase since the year before.

The number of Black people who died in such crashes was up 23 percent from 2019, the largest increase in traffic deaths among specific racial groups, the data revealed.

“Black people tend to be overrepresented as walkers in this country,” Norman Garrick a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Connecticut told NBC News.

Mr Garrick continued: “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 traffic fatality.”

Such statistics are not unexpected, with Smart Growth America showing in a 2021 report that Black people “were struck and killed by drivers at a 82 percent higher rate than White, non-Hispanic Americans”.

Calvin Gladney, president of the urban development non-profit, said there are three major reasons that Black people are suffering disproportionately including infrastructure, design and racism.

“These fatalities have been going upward for a decade,” Calvin Gladney, president of Smart Growth America told NBC News.

He added: “You go to Black and brown communities, you go to lower-income communities and you don’t see many sidewalks.”

The pandemic only exacerbated these issues Mr Gladney explained, despite the fact that people have been driving less.

“These are the same streets and the same roads that have always been there,” he said, noting: “If we have intentionality to get to racial equity and close the disparities, we actually can fix this.”

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