Study Shows Public Transit Investment Saves Lives


This week, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the Vision Zero Network released newly analyzed data detailing how more frequent public transit use is linked to fewer traffic fatalities. The findings are based on recent Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data. Specifically, NHTSA reported there were a total 37,461 deaths due to automobile traffic crashes in 2016, a 5.6% increase over the previous year that costs our nation $871 billion per year. These staggering statistics indicate that more needs to be done to reach the goal of Vision Zero, which states that traffic fatalities can be prevented, are unacceptable, and even one traffic-related death is too many. As civil engineers dedicated to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the goals of Vision Zero.

Public Transit is a Key Strategy in Advancing Vision Zero and Eliminating Traffic fatalities   finds metro areas with strong public transportation networks have lower traffic fatality rates and investment in public transit systems would save lives. The study illustrates that metro areas with over 40 annual transit trips per capita have about half the traffic fatality rate of metro areas with fewer than 20 transit trips per capita.  APTA’s report further highlights that robust transit systems develop life-saving benefits because there is a greater mode shift from auto driving to travel on public transit, which provides an alternative for high-risk and vulnerable road users as well as compact development that provides safer traffic speeds.

Public Transit is a Key Strategy in Advancing Vision Zero and Eliminating Traffic fatalities is based on the methods used in the APTA research publication The Hidden Traffic Safety Solution: Public Transportation.

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