Worldwide Road Fatality Rates Drop, But Pedestrians Still Endangered

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A new study takes a look at overall traffic fatality rates from around the world, and the news is both good and bad.  Although fatalities are lower than they’ve ever been across the globe since such research has been conducted, pedestrian safety continues to lag behind the safety of vehicle occupants.

The study, known as the 2013 Annual Road Safety Report, hails from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s International Transport Forum.  By looking at data from 37 countries, researchers were able to deduce that fatalities among drivers and their passengers have been dramatically reduced over the past decade.  The belief is that the myriad advances in automobile safety technology have led to this trend.

However, the developers of that same technology have just recently begun to turn their attention to protecting pedestrians with such systems as exterior airbags.  That could explain why deaths among other demographics are trending upward.  Countries with large numbers of cyclists, like the Netherlands, have seen bicyclists dying at greater rates, and pedestrian fatalities overall are also increasing.

In the United States, these trends hold true as well.  Vehicle occupant fatalities dropped by 4.1% in 2011.  But motorcyclist deaths increased by 2.1% and pedestrian fatalities rose by 3%.  The biggest increase, though, was among cyclists, the death rate of which rose by 8.7%.  The US ranks 29th among nations in terms of the lowest number of deaths.