The Rise in Pedestrian Fatalities Is Growing – Thanks to Distracted Drivers and Bigger Vehicles on the Roads
Last year in Washington, D.C., 40 people were killed in traffic fatalities. That's the biggest number since 2007. This is reflective of a nationwide growth of traffic fatalities. Unsafe driving rose dramatically during the pandemic. It doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense, does it? We were in lockdown mode. Everybody working from home. There were a lot fewer cars on the road. So how is it that traffic fatalities were rising? Social scientists are trying to figure this out. So is the Department of Transportation. Some of the leading theories include the fact that we are angry. And when we're angry, we drive aggressively and with horrible consequences.
Another aspect is we're distracted. We're looking at our phone instead of looking at the road. And I'm not just talking about the drivers. I'm talking about the pedestrians who are stepping off the curb without looking both ways. There's another set of statistics related to this that are worth talking about. In Washington, D.C., of those 40 traffic deaths, the two poorest neighborhoods had most of them. Those two poorest neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. house only 25% of the city, but they had 50% of the road deaths. And this trend is also occurring nationwide. Why is it that lower economic neighborhoods are incurring most of the traffic fatalities? I'll leave you to ponder that question, but it does suggest that it's yet another example, another illustration of the wealth gap in America.
A lot of theories as to why poor people are dying in pedestrian accidents more so than wealthy people. Here's one theory, seems to make sense to me. When's the last time you crossed the street? Wealthy people own cars. They drive to wherever they're going. You don't have to cross intersections. Poor people don't own a car. They take public transportation. And to get to that bus or subway, they have to cross the street. The more streets you cross, the more risk of getting hit by a car. Poor people dying more frequently in highway accidents and traffic fatalities than wealthy people.
Are Much Larger Trucks and SUVs to Blame?
The trend is occurring nationwide. 42,000 people were killed in automobile-related deaths last year. That's a 12% rise over 2020, the largest increase since 1975. And as I mentioned, pedestrians were 40% of those fatalities. Why are pedestrians dying with such a high rate of frequency compared to the past? It's because of the growing popularity of trucks and SUVs. You see, passenger cars are lower in the road. The bumper is lower to the ground, which means if you get hit by a car, that car is going to hit you at about the knees. That results in broken legs.
But when you get hit by an SUV, you're going to get hit in the chest and those injuries to your internal organs are going to kill you. So the roads are getting more dangerous to pedestrians because the vehicles are becoming more deadly. And let me try to take something as somber and serious as that conversation and turn it into something frivolous and light. In 30 states, you're allowed to collect roadkill. It's a source of meat for those who can't afford to buy it. Alaska even distributes roadkill to food charities. PETA the organization that focuses on protecting against the cruelty to animals, says eating roadkill is healthier and more ethical than buying slaughtered meat. So you might want to ask your waiter or waitress exactly what it is that they're serving up on that plate.