Poorer areas suffer more fatal car wrecks. Traffic deaths are declining amongst more educated and well-off groups. For those with less than a high school education, the number of fatal car wrecks has actually increased.
While traffic deaths have dropped in the U.S. over the past decade, research published by the American Journal of Epidemiology has found that road improvements made since the mid-1990s have not been evenly shared across all parts of the country. Click here for the study.
Even as our roadways have gotten safer nationwide, traffic deaths continue to disproportionately affect less advantaged areas. In fact, it has been shown that financially disadvantaged drivers are more likely to lose their lives in car crashes than more affluent drivers, and this inequality is only worsening with time.
The data used by researchers, which was provided by the National Center for Health Statistics, considers fatalities not just to drivers, but also to pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit passengers.
Researchers cited the following reasons for this negative trend:
- Less education. The group to reap the largest benefit from road safety improvements has been those with the most education. Fatality rates have actually increased over time among those aged 25 and older who have less than a high school diploma. This is not to say more education makes a better driver; rather, it indicates that those with less education tend to also deal with several other conditions that make transportation more dangerous. The rate of traffic fatalities in the mid-1990s was 2.5 times higher among the least-educated people than among those with the most education, but by 2010, that number increased to 4.3.
- Less financial resources. Lower-income people are more likely to drive older vehicles with fewer safety features and are less likely to be able to put resources into keeping them safe to drive through regular maintenance. People who are able to afford features like rear-view cameras, automatic braking features or side airbags are less likely to be involved in a fatal accident. As technology continues to advance, new features like brake assistance or even vehicles that drive themselves will, at first, be most accessible to the rich.
- Behavioral differences. While this is less clearly defined, some studies have suggested that lower rates of seatbelt use have contributed to more deaths among less well-off people. It has also been suggested that alcohol use may contribute to a higher rate of fatal accidents, but this, too, has produced conflicting results when studied. Socioeconomic differences are narrowing in both cases, and further study is needed to confirm the relevance of these factors on fatality rates between the two groups.
- Lack of access to trauma centers. When less advantaged or rural communities that do not have as many trauma centers to treat patients, the result is a profound effect on the level of care injured people are able to receive.
- Less political power. While more affluent neighborhoods have reaped the benefits of road improvements brought on by heightened political power, lower-income communities still struggle with aging infrastructure and lack of safety improvements like sidewalks, crosswalks, speed bumps, and stop signs. Roads are less safe, and fatalities among both drivers and pedestrians increase as a result.
The law and public funds should protect everyone equally. At George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers, we fight for those who were harmed due to road defects, car design defects, car accidents caused by others, and more – and without regard to the education or income level of those who are harmed. This is one reason why we offer free consultations to our clients and work to reduce the financial burden of lawsuits or the settlement process on our clients. We’re passionate about serving all South Carolinians in need, and we’re deeply disturbed by the results of this study.
At George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers, we’re passionate about helping victims and families put their lives back together after being hurt in car wrecks, regardless of who they are or where they come from. If you have questions about your case and whether you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and more, we’re here to review your case at no charge to you!
Contact us today for a FREE case review. Our car accident lawyers serve clients throughout Charleston, Columbia, and the entire state!