America's Unique Fatal Traffic Accident Crisis
According to a news report posted on nytimes.com, America is struggling to protect motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists from fatal accidents, unlike other wealthy, first world nations.
United States Diplomat Dan Langenkamp tragically lost his wife to a tragic cycling accident. His wife was cycling home from their sons' elementary school when she was hit and killed by a semi-tractor-trailer truck. One thousand people assembled on the National Mall to remember Sarah Debbink Langenkamp. According to the report, Sarah was the third State Department foreign service officer to be struck and killed while biking or walking in the Washington D.C. area in 2022.
Her husband stated that the issue is infuriating because the rest of the world appears to do a better job keeping pedestrians safe. His assessment of the problem is becoming increasingly accurate. For some reason, the U.S. Federal Government is falling behind comparable developed countries when it comes to traffic safety. This problem has grown sharply during the pandemic. In 2020, as automobile travel dropped worldwide, traffic accident-related fatalities fell. But the opposite happened in the United States. As travel declined, traffic accident-related fatalities continued to grow.
Federal government traffic safety agencies and traffic safety advocates mourn the idea that traffic fatalities are considered an unavoidable cost of transportation in the United States. Moreover, traffic deaths are rising even when there are fewer people driving.
In 2021, approximately 43,000 were tragically killed on U.S. roads, and traffic fatalities increased primarily among cyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. Safety advocates stated that America's road safety record is affected by cars that are designed to move quickly but not safely.
Jennifer Homendy, a National Transportation Safety Board chair, stated that many people think highways and motor vehicles are more important than anything else. It seems that state transportation departments are more concerned about how federal transportation dollars flow than public safety. This is particularly apparent in cities like Orlando and Tampa, which boomed after the explosion in car ownership. The roads in these two cities are considered the most dangerous roads in the country for pedestrians and cyclists.
America's dependence on automobiles does not explain the traffic accident fatality rate in the United States. Per capita roadway fatalities in developed countries were extremely higher in the past but improved.
At the beginning of the 2000s, other developed countries began taking pedestrian and cyclist injuries seriously. These countries began making vehicle design and street design a priority. These solutions have never been implemented in the United States. Moreover, other countries reduced speed limits and constructed additional protected bike lanes. Other countries have also moved quickly in mandating automatic braking systems that detect pedestrians and making vehicle hoods less deadly. Countries also constructed roundabouts that reduce intersection dangers, where deaths occur disproportionately.
In the United States, motor vehicles have been designed to be much larger and, therefore, deadlier to the pedestrians they strike. The five-star federal safety ratings that car buyers review when buying a vehicle today do not consider what cars might do to cyclists and pedestrians.
Americans are three times more likely to die in a car crash than French citizens. Cycling advocates stated that they expected traffic deaths to fall as more people began cycling and drivers became more accustomed to sharing the road with pedestrians. However, the opposite has occurred. Safety experts believe that the American infrastructure itself creates unsafe conditions for pedestrians.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed in 2022 will take steps toward pedestrian and cycling safety. States are now required to investigate traffic fatalities and severe injuries among people outside of vehicles to identify the most treacherous traffic area and the ways to rectify them.
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