Safer City Streets Publishes First Road Safety Global Report

New York City recently participated in a survey that examined fatality rates in different cities worldwide. (Photo by Taylor Hannon)

The International Transport Forum (ITF) obtained data on road safety outcomes for 31 different cities, throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia and the South Pacific.

Safer City Streets, a global traffic safety network for livable cities, published a new report “Global Benchmarking for Urban Safety,” on Nov. 20.

Out of the 31 cities that participated in the study, 18 were in Europe, 10 in the Americas and two in Oceania (Australia, Melanesia and Polynesia). New York City was the only city that participated in the U.S. Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal were the participating cities in Canada.

The study examined everything from size of the city and population, to the traffic fatalities for each city.

New York City had 3.1 reported fatalities per 100,000 residents between 2011 and 2015, and was ranked the 11th worst city for fatalities. The European cities had lower reported fatality rates, compared to the Americas and Guadalajara, Mexico, which reported the worst fatality rate of 24 per 100,000 residents.

The study showed that denser cities appear to have lower mortality rates, while cities in general tend to be safer than the entire country.

Another area of interest reported was different fatalities types, for pedestrian, bicycle, powered two-wheeler and other road users. New York City reported 58 percent of all road fatalities resulted in death to a pedestrian, 6 percent resulted in death to a bicyclist and 13 percent to someone in a powered 2-wheeler vehicle.

The analysis found that city officials need to communicate more and share road practices, so as to better improve safety. The report stated that pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are grouped together as vulnerable road users. This group makes up about eight out of 10 road users who are killed in city traffic.

The Safer City Streets network recommended these strategies for improving road safety:

1. Develop mobility observatories in cities — Local governments need to establish a framework for collecting and reporting urban mobility data.
2. Collect traffic casualty data from hospitals, not only from public records — Collect injury data from health emergency services, then monitor the actual number of people who are injured in traffic.
3. Adopt ambitious targets to reduce the number of casualties — Targets should be set-up to improve critical behavior indicators, like speeding.
4. Focus on protecting vulnerable road users — Cities should improve the safety of vulnerable road users by enhancing streets, so that people can walk and cycle in safer conditions.
5. Use appropriate indicators to measure the safety of vulnerable road users in cities — The volume of travel should be controlled for, via better monitoring of road safety trends.
6. Estimate daytime population size, so as to improve the comparability of traffic safety statistics — Cities should know when their rush hours are, and what times there are a number of commuters, in order to improve the comparability and relevance of mortality rates.
7. Prioritize research on urban road crashes — Cities should investigative urban shape, density and speeds, as well as gender, age and social aspects.