Seattle Sees Record Uptick In Traffic Deaths, Pedestrians Most Vulnerable

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During a September meeting with the Levy to Move Seattle Oversight Committee, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Vision Zero team stated that Seattle had registered 21 deadly traffic accidents in 2021. By December 31st, they estimate, the number could rise to 35.

The last time Seattle saw 35 deadly traffic accidents was in 2005. 

According to the data, the main victims in 2021 are pedestrians and cyclists. In other words, the very group of people the city vowed to protect in 2015.  

While pedestrian accidents are growing nationwide, Seattle is in a particularly vulnerable position as 12 out of the 21 fatalities reported in the city up until September had been pedestrians. In 2020, 24 people died in traffic accidents in the streets of Seattle. At least 14 of them were either walking or cycling. 

Seattle Accidents On The Rise Because Of Larger Vehicles, High Speed

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, while alcohol is a major factor in deadly traffic accidents involving pedestrians nationwide, intoxication does not appear to be behind the increasing trend. Instead, a growing number of deadly accidents involving pedestrians seem to involve larger, heavier vehicles such as SUVs.  

To safety advocates, the issue may also lie with how fast drivers are going. 

According to the data, 13.5% of all deadly traffic accidents reported in the city within the six years since the SDOT launched Vision Zero have been on Aurora Avenue N, also known as State Highway 99. According to a recent study, 89.2% of southbound drivers and 93.6% of northbound drivers go over the speed limit while traveling on Aurora Avenue, an issue that could help to explain why so many pedestrians are vulnerable. 

If the SDOT is successful in applying the $1.5 million grant it’s about to receive to make design changes to Aurora Avenue, however, speed changes and other road tweaks could help boost pedestrian and cyclist safety, helping to lower the number of deadly accidents. 

For more on the increase in the number of deadly traffic accidents in the Emerald City and how officials plan on tackling it, follow this link