Urban streets have now passed rural streets in terms of people killed in traffic accidents, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The research study, titled “Traffic Fatalities on Urban Roads and Streets in Relation to Speed Limits and Speeding, United States, 2010–2019,” and released in July 2022, stated that before 2015, traffic fatalities in rural areas were higher than those in urban ones. However, between 2010 and 2019, motor vehicle crashes in urban areas jumped by 34 percent compared to those in rural ones dropping by 10 percent.
Because of these statistical changes, traffic fatalities were higher than those in rural areas in 2019, with 19,595 in urban areas compared to 16,340 in rural areas.
This data change, however, has not been seen in Highland County. According to an Ohio State Highway Patrol graphic for Highland County — Fatal Traffic Crashes from 2020 to 2022 Year-to-Date — the county had seen four rural road fatalities in 2022.
That is compared to 2021 statistics that showed the county had eight rural road fatalities. In 2020, the only year in the graphic which showed urban road fatalities for the county, there were two, with the county also showing eight rural road fatalities that year as well.
The study stated that a main contributing factor to this change was speeding. It said that even though “speeding occurs on all road types,” urban roadways counted for a “disproportionate number” of speeding-related fatalities. It also said that concerning the 9,478 traffic fatalities in 2019, that speeding was considered a factor, 54 percent of them happened on urban roadways.
“Many urban streets in metropolitan areas are busier, with a mix of road users such as drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists,” Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said. “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.”
Concerning other specific statistics from the study, “slightly over a half” of the fatalities on urban roads and streets were occupants in passenger vehicles, with about three in 10 being non-motorists (pedestrians or bicyclists). For the latter fatalities, about 70 percent of them were hit by vehicles on roads that had speed limits in the range of 30-45 mph.
The study later looked at possible countermeasures for the change in statistics and stated that “the foremost step in speed management is setting an appropriate speed limit. It is especially critical for urban roads and streets where vehicles and vulnerable road users mix.” It stated that an initiative to work and reduce speed limits in urban core areas had been “globally” developed and implemented.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.