Equity

Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in the United States experience historic and systemic racism that impacts all aspects of life, including transportation, which is intertwined with socioeconomic status, housing, education, health care, employment and more.

GHSA is committed, through leadership, culture change, training and accountability, to advance reforms that help achieve racial justice and equity for all road users. Amid a national discussion about social justice and the role of law enforcement in community safety, in 2020 GHSA issued recommendations to State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) and their partners on how to advance equity in traffic enforcement. At the same time, the association reaffirmed the critical role law enforcement plays in traffic safety particularly through the proven countermeasure of high visibility enforcement (High-Visibility Enforcement: Assessing Change and Identifying Opportunities, NHTSA).

To gain a better understanding of race-related disparities in traffic safety, GHSA conducted an analysis of the five most recent years of data (2015-2019) on fatal traffic crashes. The analysis confirmed that BIPOC are killed in traffic crashes at a higher rate than the U.S. average (An Analysis of Traffic Fatalities by Race and Ethnicity, GHSA). Separately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that roadway deaths of non-Hispanic Black persons increased 23% in 2020 from the year before (Early Estimates of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities and Fatality Rate by Sub-Categories in 2020, NHTSA). Research also confirms that drivers strike and kill BIPOC traveling on foot at a higher rate than expected given their share of the population (Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State: 2020 Preliminary Data, GHSA).

Achieving robust and sustained progress in preventing fatalities and injuries in BIPOC communities requires a comprehensive approach that includes five E’s: Enforcement, Engineering, Education, Emergency Medical Response and Equity. Equity is essential and cannot be separated from the other E’s – it must permeate every traffic safety effort.

While high visibility enforcement is a proven countermeasure for changing driver behavior, the relationship between police and BIPOC communities is frayed. Fostering positive engagement between law enforcement and the communities they serve is essential for building the trust and understanding necessary to advance equitable outcomes in traffic safety.

Facts & Figures

Pedestrian Fatalities by Race
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Laws

GHSA does not collect and publish state law information on this issue.

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