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  • Bit quiet here. This is an interesting article, mainly on the situation in the US, where the need to travel has been increasing, and alongside other factors has been causing a very worrying increase in collisions involving vulnerable road users.­019/oct/03/collision-course-pedestrian-d­eaths-rising-driverless-cars

    Here is what the frustrated safety experts will tell you: Americans are driving more than ever, more than residents of any other country. More of them than ever are living in cities and out in urban sprawl; a growing number of pedestrian fatalities occur on the fringes of cities, where high-volume, high-speed roads exist in close proximity to the places where people live, work, and shop. Speed limits have increased across the country over the past 20 years, despite robust evidence that even slight increases in speed dramatically increase the likelihood of killing pedestrians (car passengers, too – but the increase is not as steep, thanks to improvements in the design of car frames, airbags and seatbelts). American road engineers tend to assume people will speed, and so design roads to accommodate speeding; this, in turn, facilitates more speeding, which soon enough makes higher speed limits feel reasonable. And more Americans than ever are zipping around in SUVs and pickup trucks, which, thanks to their height, weight and shape are between two and three times more likely to kill people they hit. SUVs are also the most profitable cars on the market, for the simple reason buyers are willing to pay more for them. As with speeding, there appears to be a self-perpetuating cycle at work: the increased presence of large cars on the road makes them feel more dangerous, which makes owning a large car yourself feel more comforting.

    More fundamentally, the US is the country in the world most shaped, physically and culturally, by the presumption that the uninterrupted flow of car traffic is an obvious public good, one that deserves to trump all others in the road planning process. Many of its younger cities are designed almost entirely around planning paradigms in which pedestrians were either ignored or factored only as nuisances. Cars move fast and are heavy and hard; humans on foot move slower and are made of flesh and bone. “The layperson can realise, if they think about it for a minute, that if you want to keep people safe, you have to design streets differently,” says Dumbaugh. “You have to slow the cars down. You have to recognise the reality of road users who aren’t in cars. You have to design roads so people in cars take notice of their fellow road users. But these basic realisations aren’t things the US transportation system knows or integrates into practice. And so people keep getting killed.”

    This is a very good observation:

    While safety experts tend to focus on broad factors – the road environment and what types of behaviour it encourages – America’s cultural discourse on road safety tends to go in the opposite direction, zooming in on that most American of variables: the individual. It is not cars, car culture or bad, car-centric planning that kill pedestrians. Instead, it is individuals making bad choices about how to use the roads.

    However, the whole article is worth reading in full if you're interested in this sort of topic. Needless to say, road danger reduction is a process which attempts to prevent the sort of developments described in the article; the sticking-plaster approach of 'road safety' as an excuse for ineffective or absent action will never deliver any significant benefits and will in fact contribute to the problem.