Black people are more likely to die in traffic accidents. COVID made it worse. Our expert weighed in on NBC News.

Black people are more likely to die in traffic accidents. COVID made it worse. Our expert weighed in on NBC News. Black people are more likely to die in traffic accidents. COVID made it worse. Our expert weighed in on NBC News.

June 25, 20212 min read
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Even with a drastic reduction in driving due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Americans saw the largest increase in traffic-related deaths in 2020 when compared to other racial groups.


An estimated 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020 — the largest projected number of deaths since 2007  — and the number of Black people who died in such crashes was up 23 percent from 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


UConn’s Dr. Norman Garrick spoke with NBC News about the new report:



Norman Garrick, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Connecticut, said the numbers are saddening, but not surprising.

“Black people tend to be overrepresented as walkers in this country,” Garrick said. “This is not by choice. In many cases, Black folks cannot afford motor vehicles. And people that walk in this country tend to experience a much, much higher rate of traffic fatality. We’re talking eight to 10 times more. It’s a perfect storm of a lot of horrible forces.”

This most likely represents yet another way the health crisis has had an outsize effect on Black people. Even in the early days of the pandemic, the National Safety Council found that the emptier roads were proving to be more deadly, with a 14 percent jump in roadway deaths per miles driven in March. And Black people are more likely to face traffic injuries in general; from 2010-2019, Black pedestrians were 82 percent more likely to be hit by drivers, according to a 2021 report from Smart Growth America, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group focused on urban development.  June 22 - NBC News



Dr. Garrick is a professor in the UConn School of Engineering's Department of Civil Engineering and is co-director of the Sustainable Cities Research Group. He is an expert in the areas of transportation behaviors, parking, public transit, and bicycle lanes. Dr. Garrick is available to speak with media – simply click on his icon now to arrange an interview today.




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  • Norman Garrick, Ph.D.
    Norman Garrick, Ph.D. Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

    Professor with a focus on civil engineering, transportation behaviors, parking, public transit, and bicycle lanes.

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