TRAFFIC SAFETY: APTA eyes public transportation as a way to reduce traffic deaths

Sept. 8, 2016

With the number of traffic fatalities on the rise in the U.S., safety advocates are looking to public transportation as a way to improve commuter safety

A new study conducted by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) found that the chance of being in an accident decreases by more than 90% when taking public transit instead of driving.

That makes public transportation about 10 times safer per mile than commuting by car, the study found.

Communities where residents take an average of more than 50 annual transit trips per capita experience about half the number of traffic deaths as cities where commuters average fewer than 20 annual transit trips.

The Department of Transportation released statistics last month that showed 35,092 people were killed on U.S. roads in 2015, which is a 7.2% increase from the previous year. The number represents a break in a recent historical trend of fewer traffic deaths occurring per year.

Public transit can be a particularly valuable tool for high-risk groups and more vulnerable populations, such as teens, seniors and impaired or distracted drivers.

But Richard White, acting president and chief executive officer of APTA, warned that there is currently an $86 billion backlog of “state of good repair needs” for the nation’s public transit systems, and urged communities to make greater investments in mass transit in an effort to provide a safer transportation network.

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