According to statistics the Philadelphia Police Department provided to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, 96 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2017, 40 of whom were pedestrians, and three of whom were bicyclists.
The traffic deaths represent a decline from 2016, when 103 people were killed in traffic. But the number of deaths is still much too high, and the increase in pedestrians and cyclists as a percentage of deaths—45 percent in 2017—is alarming.
The increase in pedestrian deaths, especially as a percentage of total traffic deaths, is a nationwide trend, unfortunately.
The Governors Highway Safety Association actually found the number of pedestrians killed in traffic increased 11 percent between 2015 and 2016, the most recent national statistics available. Those 2016 pedestrian deaths represented the highest number of people killed while walking since 1990.
Why is this happening? Partially because more people have been driving motor vehicles as the economy has gotten better, and partially (perhaps even moreso) because people are increasingly distracted by their cell phones, surfing the net, texting their friends, scrolling through Instagram, and playing Candy Crush, while driving.
Additionally, according to the PPD, speed is also a terrible problem amongst Philadelphia’s motorists. (That’s why the Bicycle Coalition and our partners in the Vision Zero Alliance continue to push for a speed camera bill in Harrisburg.)
Studies and statistics show that when hit at 40 miles per hour, a pedestrian has a 90 percent chance of dying. When hit at 20 miles per hour, their chances of death are just 10 percent.
It will take additional infrastructure to make motorists drive at the speed limit, which is especially important, considering many drivers are taking selfies while operating 3,000 pound machinery.
When 2017’s numbers throughout the country are released next year, we will likely find a similar trend of pedestrian deaths in major metropolises, like we did in 2016. According to the Bangor Daily News, in Bangor, Maine, more pedestrians were killed by vehicles in Bangor in 2017 than any year since 1994, for example.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has created Philadelphia’s only real-time database of traffic violence victims in Philadelphia. The point of the site is to better represent how often, and where, traffic deaths are happening.
Until recently, we were updating the website according to media reports—which incredibly underrepresents the number of people who are killed in traffic crashes throughout the city.
According to our latest “media count,” 76 people were killed in traffic in Philadelphia in 2017—20 fewer than the actual number.
We are currently updating PHLtrafficvictims.org to better represent all those who lost their lives due to traffic violence in 2017.
In the meantime, last year’s traffic violence statistics shows that the city needs to move faster on its Vision Zero. We and our guests will be discussing ways to bring Vision Zero to your community at our Vision Zero Conference on March 17, 2017.