Better Roads Staff
Probing Two Groups and Deadly Crashes
The Texas Transportation Institute’s Center for Transportation Safety (CTS) is investigating the reasons why two distinct population groups — Hispanics and U.S. military personnel — are experiencing above-average deadly crash rates. They are separate research efforts.
Data show that Hispanics have a disproportionate risk of dying or being injured in traffic crashes. So, CTS has begun a Latino Traffic Safety Initiative (LTSI) in Texas, and hopes to offer countermeasure approaches.
Nationally, the figures are alarming:
• Motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Hispanics ages 1-34.
• Hispanic children ages 5-12 are 72- percent more likely to die in a motor-vehicle crash than non-Hispanic children and they are less likely to wear a restraint device.
• Hispanics are more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, and are more likely to be driving without a valid license.
“We have a lot of questions about injuries and fatalities among the Latino population,” CTS Senior Research Scientist Katie Womack points out. “What are the ages of the crash victims? Are more males or females killed and injured? What are the causes of the crashes? Were the occupants wearing safety belts or using child restraints? How big of a problem is impaired driving among Hispanics in Texas?
“We suspect that the Texas figures will show a disproportionate Hispanic fatality and injury rate similar to the national figures,” Womack predicts. “If they do, how do we best approach this problem?”
A March 2011 article in the military publication Medical Surveillance Monthly Report “Motor vehicle accidents (MVA) are the leading cause of deaths of U.S. military members during peacetime. During the four years prior to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, one-third of all deaths of service members were caused by MVAs. Since the beginning of those operations, there have been nearly as many deaths of service members due to ‘transportation accidents’ as war-related injuries.”
The article reported that more than 4,000 active-duty service members died in crashes during that period, with motorcycle deaths accounting for 24 percent of the fatalities.
America’s Cities Going Bald
The vibrant trees that are the crowning glory of America’s cities are rapidly thinning out.
According to a report in the journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, tree cover in urban areas of the United States is on the decline at a rate of about 7,900 hectares or 4 million trees per year. Tree cover in 17 of the 20 analyzed cities had statistically significant declines, while 16 cities had statistically significant increases in impervious cover.
The estimate comes from paired aerial photographs, interpreted to assess recent changes in tree, impervious and other cover types in 20 U.S. cities, as well as urban land in the Lower 48. Only one city (Syracuse, N.Y.) had a statistically significant increase in tree cover, says the report by David Nowak and Eric Greenfield.
“How about doing away with the (federal) Department of Transportation?”
—Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA), whose proposal would also end the federal gas tax, quoted in the Rome News Tribune (Ga.).
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