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Over Half of Traffic Deaths Are Pedestrians, Bicyclists and Motorcyclists

Posted On March 19, 2020

The development of inner-city measures to promote walking paths and biking lanes for residents has created a steep rise in traffic deaths for pedestrians and cyclists.

Pedestrians and Cyclists Face Fatality Risks

The number of road traffic deaths continues to rise each year at a steady pace, but more than half of fatality victims are motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  Road traffic injuries are the eighth leading cause of death for all age groups, and the leading cause of death for children and young adults from ages 5 to 29. In countries and cities with large inner-city populations, the risk of being killed in a traffic-related accident is three times higher than in areas with smaller populations and fewer cars on the road.

In 2017, U.S. driver fatalities in traffic-related accidents dropped significantly to 23,611, but pedestrian and cyclist fatalities increased to 6,760 deaths. As urban cities like Chicago work diligently to create safe pedestrian crossings, walking areas, and bike lanes for residents, death tolls continue to rise for these vulnerable groups. Many drivers are still traveling too fast, running red lights and stop signs, failing to stop at pedestrian crossings, and driving while distracted or impaired. In 2017, Chicago personal injury lawyers saw 46 pedestrian deaths caused by traffic-related accidents. By the end of July 2018, there were already 23 pedestrians deaths in the city.

Vision Zero Safety Plans

Many populated U.S. cities have adopted a Vision Zero action plan which seeks to reach a goal of zero traffic-related injuries and deaths by 2026. Eighteen cities including Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington DC have implemented Vision Zero policies to promote inner-city safety. Actions include a variety of measures:

  • Improve city road designs
  • Reduce traffic flow and speed in urban areas
  • Install more traffic signals and signs
  • Create lighted crosswalks with walk signals
  • Build safety pedestrian barriers
  • Build isolated safety lanes for cyclists

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is working on city plans that concentrate on safety measures for city infrastructure, law enforcement, and driver education in neighborhoods that are most affected by traffic-related injuries and deaths. Vision Zero Chicago is a three-year action plan that focuses on traffic safety improvements for motorists, as well as motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Under the Vision Zero plan, Chicago plans to make improvements to 300 city intersections by adding pedestrian islands, curb bump-outs, walk signals with electronic timers, and 50 miles of new bike lanes.

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