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Pedestrian Deaths 'No Accident,' Author Says in Urging Reforms

Vehicles are getting bigger and people are becoming more likely to live in places with more dangerous roads in the United States. Last year, more than 7,500 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roads — a 40-year high, Slate Magazine reports. Jessie Singer, author of "There Are No Accidents: The Deadly Rise of Injury and Disaster ― Who Profits and Who Pays the Price," spoke in a Q&A about why deaths are on the rise — and the deadly tendency to treat these deaths as individual accidents, when they’re really part of something much larger. In the U.S., the likelihood of dying in a car crash is much higher than in other countries. In Europe and Japan, where pedestrian fatalities have been in decline while ours have been rising, narrow roads, lower speed limits and expansive public transit all contribute to safer streets, Singer said. There are also high fuel taxes and high fuel-economy standards, so driving a big car is unaffordable and the market for them is much smaller.

Singer suggests that creating tiered vehicle registration taxes that put a heavy price on the most deadly vehicles can improve pedestrian safety. Other solutions include expanding public transit locally, narrowing roads and building smaller ones. She is also in favor of gearing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's New Car Assessment Program safety ratings toward pedestrian safety to encourage American automakers to adopt smarter technologies, like intelligent speed assist that limits the vehicle speed to the speed of a roadway, limits on vehicle weight and size and requiring vehicle designs with high visibility for drivers. Said Singer, "We prize enforcement as a solution to traffic safety compared to other countries, and it is ineffective. We have the biggest cars. We also have the most dangerous streets. And our regulatory agencies are, at best, defanged and defunded by comparison."


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