The number of Black Americans who died in traffic-related accidents rose 23% between 2019 and 2020, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This increase is the largest among racial groups in the U.S., but sadly, is nothing new. Black Americans have faced a disproportionate level of danger on America’s streets for a long time and for a variety of reasons.
A perfect storm of traffic danger
Why are Black Americans at a heightened risk of suffering a serious injury in a traffic accident? Reasons include:
- More people travel on foot: Some Black people choose to travel on foot, but many are forced to due to economic circumstances. Whether a person is unable to afford a vehicle or does not have access to public transportation, factors outside their control force them to walk on streets and roads that were not designed for pedestrian safety.
- Poor infrastructure: As government agencies fail to invest in Black communities, the streets, sidewalks and intersections in these neighborhoods continue to degrade. These infrastructure failures prevent drivers, passengers and pedestrians from enjoying safety enhancements people in more affluent neighborhoods take for granted.
- Racist attitudes: A chilling study conducted by the University of Nevada found that drivers were less likely to yield for Black pedestrians in roadways. Such attitudes, combined with the economic factors outlined above, create a perfect storm of pedestrian danger in Black communities.
As the COVID-19 pandemic raged, the streets became even more dangerous, and the overrepresentation of Black accident victims only grew. Identifying the reasons for this disparity in traffic deaths, before and after COVID, is a necessary first step in making our communities safer for all.
Finding justice in the legal system
While systemic failures have placed Black Americans at risk, the injustice can and must stop when an injury case reaches the legal arena. If you or someone close to you has suffered a serious injury or wrongful death due to the negligence of another driver or other party, you have important legal rights. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you pursue the fair treatment you were deprived of on the road.