Across the United States, traffic accidents and related fatalities have been on the rise. As the sixth most populated city in the country, with more than 1.6 million residents, Philadelphia has not been immune to this worrisome trend. In fact, 2020 was the worst year in recent history for fatal car crashes in Philly, and the city continues to have one of the highest auto-fatality rates in the nation.
According to recent data, although the most heavily congested roadways saw a reduction in vehicle traffic in 2020, motor vehicle accident fatalities were up by 60 percent. With a staggering number of traffic accidents occurring in Philly every year, it is interesting to note that the city has one of the country’s lowest car ownership rates.
The cause of this unusual increase in fatalities remains unclear, though some experts believe that coronavirus restrictions may have resulted in changes in driving habits that have caused disastrous results. For example, a temporary decrease in motor vehicle usage may have led to more aggressive drivers on the road participating in risky behaviors such as speeding and alcohol consumption.
Philadelphia car accident lawyers say that, with traffic death rates continuing to rise, the city must find new ways to prevent accident injuries and fatalities, especially if the city wants to meet its goal of zero traffic deaths by the year 2030.
Philadelphia car accident statistics show a disturbing trend
According to Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation, there were 10,688 auto accidents in Philadelphia County in 2009. A decade later, accidents had risen by 4 percent, bringing the total number of car accidents to 11,120. Although traffic collision numbers fluctuated during that time, the fact remains that Philadelphia has been on a dangerous trajectory when it comes to traffic accidents.
These figures represent an average of 30 car accidents each day and more than one crash every hour.
With 11,120 incidents reported in Philadelphia in 2019, the city’s car accidents accounted for more than 8.9 percent of all accidents in the entire state of Pennsylvania. Of those crashes, 13.3 percent resulted in an injury, and 8.7 percent resulted in fatalities, keeping Philadelphia car accident attorneys busy.
Philadelphia drivers and passengers aren’t the only ones at risk
In Philadelphia, motor vehicle drivers must safely share the road with motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Studies show that these individuals are at a greater risk of injury or death in car accidents. Two decades ago, these individuals accounted for 20 percent of all traffic accident deaths. Today, they account for one-third. In 2020, motor vehicle accidents killed 50 pedestrians, six cyclists, and 29 motorcyclists in Philadelphia. The city is on track to see similar numbers as we approach the end of 2021.
Overall, eight percent of all car accident injury victims and 36 percent of all car accident fatalities were motorcyclists, bicyclists, or pedestrians.
Car accidents in Philly reflect national trends
Across the country, traffic fatalities continue to increase at an alarming rate, despite an overall decrease in the number of miles driven. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this trend is most evident than in Philadelphia County, which continues to have the most traffic accident fatalities per capita in the entire United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That means Philly’s roads are more dangerous than in cities like New York and Los Angeles, accident lawyers say.
Across the country, the NHTSA has identified risky behaviors like failure to wear a seatbelt, speeding, and drunk driving as factors contributing to recent trends. Although Americans drove fewer miles in 2020, the NHTSA estimates that 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, the most significant number of fatalities since 2007.
Philadelphia’s Vision Zero initiative seeks to decrease traffic deaths
In 2017, Mayor James F. Kenney implemented a “Vision Zero” initiative to reduce the number of traffic fatalities to zero by 2030. Vision Zero is a worldwide road traffic safety project that began in Sweden in 1997. Since then, countless cities across the globe have implemented Vision Zero plans.
Philly plans to meet its Vision Zero goals by pledging the following:
- To reduce the number of severe traffic accidents.
- To improve the overall safety and performance of city streets.
- To prioritize the protection of vulnerable individuals, such as pedestrians and bicyclists.
- To promote the reduction of chronic disease, the removal of congestion, improved air quality, and improved health through transportation alternatives.
The city’s current Vision Zero action plan focuses on the behavior of drivers and outlines efforts to reduce speed through infrastructure that encourages drivers to move more slowly and develop safer driving habits. Through Vision Zero, the city also plans to redesign its streets to promote pedestrian safety.
Everyone must work together to prevent traffic accidents in Philadelphia
Redesigned streets, speed limit reductions, and new traffic laws can only go so far in reversing these unfortunate trends. Serious car accidents will continue unless Philly residents work together to raise awareness and help to reduce them. Drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians must make concerted efforts to practice safe road habits if they want to see a drop in car accidents on Philadelphia’s streets.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Philadelphia car accident, a Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney can help. Contact an experienced car accident lawyer from Thistle Law to learn more about your legal rights and options. Call Thistle Law at 215-525-6824 or fill out our form here for a free consultation on your case.