A new study concludes that not only is transit a safer way to travel, but communities oriented around transit are also safer. As a result, planning approaches that encourage transit also increase traffic safety.
A new report [pdf] from the American Public Transportation Association looks at the relationship between public transit and traffic safety. The United States compared to peer countries ranks highest in terms of per capita vehicle mileage and traffic death rates. Among U.S. cities, the traffic fatality rate decreases as the number of per capita transit trips increases.
Angie Schmitt describes the report’s conclusion that factors related to public transit also increase traffic safety:
Transit is not only safer for the obvious reason — trains and buses are safer than cars — but because communities built around transit tend to have safer walking and biking amenities, fewer parking lots and safer street design. Such features, as well as higher population density, make it easier for people to make shorter car trips, or avoid them all together — reducing their overall exposure to crashes.
In addition, alternatives to driving, such as more available transit, promote less driving by high-risk groups, including youth, seniors, and alcohol drinkers, says APTA.
"APTA hopes the study will encourage increased transit funding. But the group also calls on cities and institutions to develop incentives — such as discounted fares — and disincentives, such as charging for parking by the day, to encourage drivers to switch to transit," reports Schmitt.
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