The United States’ history of systemic racism against Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), has a profound impact on all aspects of American life, including transportation. This is linked to socioeconomic status, housing, education, healthcare, employment, and many other factors.
Through leadership, culture change and training, the GHSA is committed to advancing reforms that promote racial justice for all road users. In 2020, GHSA made recommendations to State Highway Safety Offices and their partners about how to improve equity in traffic enforcement amid a national conversation about social justice and law enforcement’s role in community safety. The association also reaffirmed law enforcement’s crucial role in traffic safety, particularly through high visibility enforcement (High Visibility Enforcement: Assessing Changes and Identifying Opportunities), NHTSA.
The GHSA performed an analysis of five years’ worth of data on fatal traffic accidents between 2015 and 2019. This was done to gain a better understanding about race-related disparities. BIPOC are more likely to be killed in traffic accidents than the U.S. (An Analysis Of Traffic Fatalities By Race and Ethnicity GHSA). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also reported that the number of road deaths among non-Hispanic Black people increased by 23% in 2020 compared to the previous year (Early Estimates for Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities & Fatality Rate By Sub-Categories in 2020 NHTSA). Research shows that pedestrian traffic fatalities by state: 2020 Preliminary Data (GHSA) is higher than expected.
To make steady and robust progress in preventing deaths and injuries in BIPOC communities, it is necessary to have a comprehensive approach that incorporates five E’s: Enforcement (Engineering), Education (Emergency Medical Response), Equity (Equity) and Engineering (Employment). Equity is vital and cannot be separated form the other E’s. It must be a part of every traffic safety initiative.
High visibility enforcement has been proven to change driver behavior. However, police relationships with BIPOC communities are strained. For equitable traffic safety outcomes, it is vital to foster positive relationships between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.