New research finds that after many years of the converse, traffic fatalities on urban roads have eclipsed those on rural roads and the problem is growing. In 2019, 19,595 people were killed in urban locations compared to 16,340 in the countryside, according to the AAA Foundation.
Historically, the situation was the reverse. Prior to 2015, there were more traffic fatalities in rural areas than in urban areas in the U.S. However, between 2010 and 2019, fatalities in urban areas increased by 34%, while those in rural areas decreased by 10%.
The upward trend in urban crash projections will continue to rise as populations and vehicle miles traveled in urban areas increases, according to the report.
Moreover, speeding is a key factor in urban crashes. In fact, nearly one-third of people who lost their lives on roads with speed limits 25mph or below were victims of speeding-related crashes.
Although speeding occurs on all road types, urban roadways account for a disproportionate number of speeding-related fatalities. Despite lower speed limits on many urban roads, the high volume of pedestrians and bicyclists and high density of junctions can increase risks.
From 2010-2019, speeding-related fatalities on non-limited access roadways in urban areas rose steadily. These include traffic deaths on arterials, collectors, and local streets. What’s more, almost half of those fatalities happened on roads with speed limits of 35 mph or lower. Also noteworthy, about one in five of those urban-based fatalities occurred in T-bone collisions.
Additionally, speeding was involved in 38% of fatalities that occurred at or nearby interchange areas. Most victims from these crashes were drivers of the speeding vehicle. However, other road users were often fatally injured as well, including pedestrians, bicyclists, passengers in speeding vehicles, and occupants in opposing vehicles. Further, fatalities in vehicles that were not speeding tended to occur on higher-speed roads, whereas non-motorist fatalities tended to occur on lower-speed roads.