Philadelphia High Traffic Fatality Rate Persists in 2022

Sunday, November 20, 2022 is World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

PHILADELPHIA — Community members, City staff and elected officials came together on Sunday to honor the 109 people who lost their lives to date due to traffic violence in Philadelphia in 2022. The group met at the Northwest section of Broad and Erie St. at a pocket park called Fish Park. 

In 2021, 42,915 people lost their lives in the U.S. in roadway crashes. This is the highest number of roadway deaths in 16 years; a 10.5 percent increase from 2020; and the largest annual percentage increase in the history of the nation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, started in 1975. For context, 42,000 people a year is the equivalent to seven 747 airplanes crashing and killing everyone on board each month. 

Drivers struck and killed an estimated 7,485 people in the U.S. on foot in 2021 – the most pedestrian deaths in a single year in four decades and a 12% increase from the previous year. 

Philadelphia continues to have one of the highest rates of traffic fatalities per capita compared to its peer cities. According to the Philly’s Office of Transportation Infrastructure & Sustainability, pedestrians made up 15% of all crashes but 38% of the traffic fatalities. Report

A recent review of Philadelphia Police Department data by the Bicycle Coalition shows that as of October 31st, 2022, 102 people were killed in traffic crashes, nearly exactly the same number of people who died in the same time period in 2021.  This means that 2022 is on track to be as bad a year as 2021, which was the worst year for traffic fatalities since 1999 (with the exception of 2020, which was the highest since 1989).

But, World Day of Remembrance is not about numbers, it’s about people.

“I am here to remember and honor my 4 family members who were killed by two people drag racing on Roosevelt Blvd in 2013,” said Latanya Byrd, co-founder of Families of Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia. “I hope that one day we will stand here and report 0 traffic fatalities, that we don’t need to hold a World Day of Remembrance.”

Through Byrd’s activism and the work of Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia, Roosevelt Blvd has seen a serious decrease in motor vehicle speeding because of the introduction of Automated Speed Cameras (ASE). Now the ASE pilot is set to expire at the end of 2023. 

Byrd went on to say, “the Automated Speed Camera pilot needs to be renewed and expanded now to ensure even more lives can be saved on our streets.”

Of the 102 persons who lost their lives in 2022 as of October 31st.

  • 36% were over 50 (39)
  • 5% were under 18 (5)
  • One fourth of all killed were left by drivers who fled the scene (26)
  • 46% were pedestrians (47)
  • 3% were bicyclists (3)

Communities point to proven roadway strategies that would save lives (see analysis to advance Vision Zero), including: 

  1. Designing roads, setting policies for Safety over Speed. Speed is the top indicator of whether a crash will result in severe injuries or fatalities. A reduction of 1mph in operating speed can result in a 17% decrease in fatal crashes. This is possible by redesigning roadways, lowering speed limits, and leveraging safety technology like Automated Speed Cameras (more info). 
  2. Ensuring Complete Streets serve all road users. This includes safe access for people walking, biking, driving, and riding transit, and people of all ages and abilities. Much of the road system in the U.S. is designed primarily for speed and attempts to avoid delays, not safe mobility (more info). 
  3. Updating vehicle design standards to match safety standards elsewhere in the world, with a focus on adding features to protect people outside of vehicles, such as those walking and bicycling (background). 

“I have seen two fatal pedestrian crashes in my district in a matter of months,” state Rep. Darisha Parker, D-Phila., said. “We immediately went into action and connected with the city and have tried to secure state funding and introduce legislation to help support the mission of safe roadways. But it will take continued awareness and a conscience on the part of drivers to make sure it can happen. But I am committed to working to make our streets safe in Philadelphia and across the commonwealth.”

Neighbors along with the city have been working to reduce crime, traffic violence and bring life back into the commercial corridor. Starting in 2017, the city launched a program to improve the North Philadelphia intersection by making the intersection safer, creating new public spaces, creating jobs and supporting businesses, and honoring the local history. 

“This memorial today is symbolic; it represents; their loss of life is not in vain. The fight goes on,” said Amelia Price, Called to Serve CDC’s Corridor Manager. “We pray everyone in this city of brotherly love and sisterly affection will take the time to truly educate themselves about Vision Zero’s mission and strategic plans to end horrific traffic crashes and unimaginable fatalities.”

As other nations’ traffic deaths decreased during the early phase of the pandemic, as expected with fewer trips, in the U.S. roadway deaths skyrocketed. The number of vehicle-miles traveled in the U.S. decreased by 13.2% in 2020 compared to 2019, yet the number of people killed in road crashes increased by 7.2% in 2020 compared to 2019. 

Examples of recent advancements made by national Vision Zero advocates include the following: 


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