(WKBN) – More people are now killed on city streets than on rural roads, according to research findings from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Between 2010 and 2019, fatalities in urban areas surged 34% while those in rural areas fell 10%. Urban fatalities first surpassed those in rural areas in 2016, and 19,595 people were killed in urban locations compared to 16,340 in the countryside in 2019.

According to Federal Highway Administration statistics, more than 70% of the 4 million miles of public-access roads in the United States are rural. Yet, while speeding occurs on all roads, urban roads and streets account for a disproportionate number of speeding-related fatalities. The AAA Foundation study examines characteristics of deaths that happened on urban non-limited access roadways (not freeways, expressways or interstates) from 2010 to 2019.

The foundation used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a national census of fatal traffic crashes. Fatalities were considered speeding-related if any vehicle involved in the crash was reported to have exceeded the posted speed limit, drove too fast for conditions or was racing.

Details of the foundation research can be found here, but key highlights include:

  • Collisions with pedestrians/bicyclists accounted for the largest proportion of all fatalities regardless of speed on urban roads and streets (29%)
  • Fatalities of occupants in non-speeding vehicles tended to occur on higher-speed roads, whereas fatalities of pedestrians/bicyclists tended to occur on lower-speed roads
  • Speeding-related fatalities on non-limited access roads in urban areas increased from 2010 to 2019
  • Nearly half of all such fatalities occurred on roads with speed limits of 35 mph or lower
  • T-bone collisions accounted for 20% of fatalities
  • Nearly 33% of those killed on roads with speed limits of 25 mph or lower were victims of speeding-related crashes
  • Most victims of speeding-related crashes were speeders who tended to be male and/or young adults

“Urban streets in metropolitan areas can be more dangerous because there are higher numbers of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists traveling those roadways,” said Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs of AAA East Central. “Speeding makes those busy streets even more treacherous, so everyone needs to be careful, pay attention to road conditions and follow traffic laws.”

According to new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates, 9,560 people died in motor-vehicle traffic crashes in the first quarter of 2022, a 7% increase compared to last year. It is the highest number of first-quarter fatalities since 2002. NHTSA reports 42,915 people died in traffic crashes last year, with speed-related crash fatalities rising by 5%.

AAA urges transportation engineers and decision-makers to consider speed management and prioritize safety when setting speed limits, and it strongly supports adopting The Safe System Approach to roadway safety. The SSA uses current effective countermeasures to create multiple layers of protection for transportation network users, rather than simply responding only after evidence of a specific safety problem.