As the pandemic has caused a disruption in our daily routines, reports of an increase in gun related deaths have risen and made the headlines. Road deaths have also risen sharply in Philadelphia and are up over 2019, according to data collected by the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD).
To date 120 traffic deaths have been reported. Up from 75 at this time last year, the numbers represent a 60 percent increase and the worst level of traffic violence since 1997 when 137 people were killed by motor vehicles.
Every category, except for ATV riders, showed sharp increases. Forty-two pedestrian deaths is a major concern because we know that the upcoming time change will mean that more people will be walking in the dark in November and December. The number of bicyclists killed this year has doubled over last year and motorcycle crash victims have risen by 75 percent.
Aggressive driving appears to be a factor in many of these tragedies. Hit and Run drivers killed 24 people this year, compared to 10 at this time last year. There were 29 single vehicle crashes, compared with 17 for all of last year. Several police investigations noted drivers and motorcyclists traveling at high speed and losing control.
In the map below we compared the location of traffic deaths with the City’s High Injury Network (dark lines) and census tracts defined by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) as above average in the region for Indicators of Potential Disadvantage or IPD.
IPD is the Commissions measurement of equity in the region comparing factors such as income, race, age and ethnicity. Many, perhaps most of these crashes occurred within above average IPD tracts and mostly have been on the High Injury Network. We’ll be looking at the data more deeply in the coming weeks. For further reading about traffic safety in above average IPD areas read this report published by DVRPC in 2018.
Like deaths from gun violence, airline crashes, opioids, fires, and Covid-19, the only acceptable number of traffic deaths on our streets is zero.
To quote New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who always refers to Covid-19 victims as “precious souls” at his daily briefings: “Everyone is indispensable, we will fight to save every single life.”
For the most up to date information on victims of traffic violence in Philadelphia including information from previous years go to our traffic victims page – https://bicyclecoalition.org/trafficvictimsphl/