U.S. Traffic Fatalities Increased Most for Black Americans During the Pandemic

Two new reports confirm the racial disparities of traffic violence in the United States, revealing more proof about who stayed home during the pandemic, and who was forced to navigate the risks of the pandemic in public.

June 22, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Traffic Fatality Demographics

Governors Highway Safety Association / An Analysis of Traffic Fatalities by Race and Ethnicity

We already know that U.S. traffic deaths soared during the pandemic, despite fewer people driving fewer miles. Now a new report adds another layer onto the tragic figures: Black Americans accounted for a disproportionate impact of traffic fatalities during the pandemic.

Reporting for CNN, Matt McFarland broke the news about a report published on June 3, 2021  by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated earlier this month that 38,680 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020, the largest projected number of deaths since 2007, despite a 13.2% decrease in miles traveled from the prior year. When broken down along racial lines, white pedestrian deaths grew 4%, American Indian fatalities grew 11%, and Asian and Pacific Islander deaths declined 29%.

But NHTSA found the largest increase in deaths — 23% — among Black people in what appears to be a stark illustration of which populations could and could not afford to stay home throughout the pandemic.

The increased traffic fatalities among Black Americans during the pandemic continued a trend that predates the arrival of the novel coronavirus to the United States. Traffic deaths for Black Americans rose 16 percent from 2005 to 2019. During the same period, traffic deaths for white people fell 27.8 percent.

More data on the racial disparities in U.S. traffic fatalities can be found in a separate report by the Governors Highway Safety Association titled "An Analysis of Traffic Fatalities by Race and Ethnicity," published on June 22, 2021.

News of both studies gained traction around the national news media, including articles for The Washington Post and NBC News.

Monday, June 21, 2021 in CNN Business

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