We’re led to believe that traffic fatalities are on the decline, and indeed they are—but only for the well off. New research says that for lower income, less educated individuals, the chance of dying in a vehicular-related incident has actually risen significantly.
The news arrives via the Washington Post, quoting research from the National Center for Health Statistics. That study says that while new technology and better safety standards are keeping some drivers safer, the rich are the only ones benefiting, leaving the poor further at risk than ever before.
It comes as no surprise that the more educated, and likely wealthier you are, the safer you’ll be when driving: Newer, more expensive cars feature better safety technology—like collision warnings that can apply the brakes automatically if a potential accident is detected; lane-assist, pedestrian detection, headlights with better range and even night vision. Those advancements have come faster than ever; you’d be lucky if a 2003 Corolla had anti-lock brakes, and even the basic electronic stability control wasn’t available. Yet that 2003 car is likely still on the road, as the average age of vehicles in use is now a record 11.5 years.
The problem gets compounded further when you think that poor communities likely feature worse roads than affluent communities. And as the Washington Post reports, the residents of these lower income neighborhoods probably have less political sway to implement changes like stop signs, sidewalks and speed bumps, hence pedestrian fatalities are higher in poor areas.