The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 11.4 Americans per 100,000 died in traffic crashes in 2020. According to a Bloomberg article of November 3, 2022, this number is significantly greater than most European nations and many other developed nations in the world. More troubling, 2019 saw the most pedestrian deaths in the USA in 40 years according to data collected by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. Urban researcher, David Zipper writes in the Bloomberg article that the higher death rates on American roads cannot be attributed unique characteristics of the United States landscape or culture but instead can be traced back to specific policy decisions to not prioritize traffic safety over other considerations, such as profit and convenience.
The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. were surprised to learn from this Bloomberg article that while traffic deaths in the USA have reached a 16 year high, traffic deaths in some European countries and Japan have hit levels not seen since 1940.
The most striking statistic cited by this article is that pedestrian, bike and scooter user traffic deaths rose 40% between 2010 and 2018 in the USA while in many European countries the number of deaths actually fell.
While it is hard to pinpoint specific causes for the rising death tolls on the road, one factor stands out to the personal injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer. While in Europe and Asia, smaller passenger cars are prefered, the USA market is dominated by SUVs and heavy pick-up trucks. The predominance of SUVs and pick-up trucks on USA roads especially comes into play in pedestrian deaths. Many studies have shown that a pedestrian is much more likely to die or be seriously injured after being hit by an SUV or pick-up truck since these vehicles have high front ends. Studies have shown that when pedestrians are hit by a standard car, they are likely to fly onto the hood of the car and thus avoid the full impact of the car’s front end. On the other hand, when a pedestrian is hit by an SUV, the pedestrian cannot fly onto the hood because the hood is too high. Instead, the pedestrian’s body receives the full force of the SUV’s impact. Additionally, the high front ends of these vehicles limit the driver’s visibility of persons and objects in front of the vehicle. The European Union and many Asian countries have recognized these problems and have included pedestrian safety into crash ratings and done so for two decades.
The attorneys of Zneimer and Zneimer P.C. believe that it would be prudent for the USA to also include pedestrian safety in the crash test ratings. Traffic safety is an issue that most European countries take seriously but is barely a part of public debate in the USA. Given the number of preventable traffic deaths which occur in the USA every year, this is an issue which deserves much more attention.