In most societies fatalities increase to a point and then decline despite increasing numbers of vehicles and VMTs. In the U.S. the number of fatalities reached a peak in 1972 and have generally declined since then even with large increases in VMT (Figure 1). Fatalities have dropped from 56,000 in 1972 to just under 41,000 in 1995. In 1938 when the national VMT level was just 10% of the current figure there were 38,000 fatalities. In the long run we could expect declining fatality figures for all populations and population subgroups.
In the decade of the 1990s the number of highway fatalities in Illinois has declined steadily but not for all population subgroups. From 1990 to 1998 Illinois fatalities have decreased by 15% but they have increased by 64% among Latinos, 5% among African Americans and 30% among Asian Americans. These data need to be widely publicized before strategies for declining fatalities become effective.
Improved traffic safety has been the hallmark of U.S. DOT for some time. It is assumed that travel is becoming safer for most forms of transportation. There are, however, some population subgroups that are experiencing rising fatalities. In Cook County African Americans account for approximately 30% of the population but 36% of the motor vehicle fatalities. On a per-mile driven basis Latinos have fatality rates 50% higher than whites. Wider recognition of these data is a first step in addressing the problem.
Expected Results or Products:
Urban Transportation Center
University of Illinois at Chicago
412 South Peoria Street, Suite 340
Chicago, IL 60607
Voice: (312) 996-2666
Fax: (312) 413-0006