United States Won’t Sign Global Pledge to Eliminate Traffic Deaths

A contentious decision surrounding an uncontroversial goal

Crosswalk
Why hasn't the U.S. signed a pledge to decrease road traffic deaths?
Dllu/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / February 26, 2020 7:30 am

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization offered an in-depth look at injuries incurred from road traffic. Among the sobering pieces on information to be found there? The 1.35 million annual deaths that take place due to road traffic crashes. Even more unsettling? The report notes that “[r]oad traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years.”

Clearly, such an alarming global statistic is the kind of thing that would prompt the world’s governments to take action. And many of them are doing just that — 140 countries signed a pledge to eliminate road traffic deaths by the year 2050. Not among these 140 countries? The United States.

At Curbed, Alissa Walker explores the nature of this pledge — and attempts to explain why the U.S. hasn’t opted in. The goals of the Stockholm Declaration, as Walker notes, are pretty universal:

The recommendations in the Stockholm Declaration mirror actions that Oslo and Helsinki have taken, including prioritizing the safety of children and young adults, redesigning streets, reducing speeds to 20 mph in cities, shifting more trips to public transit, and providing high-quality medical support for survivors and the families of victims.

The United States, meanwhile, offered a statement that the Stockholm Declaration would “detract attention from data driven scientific policies and programs that have successfully reduced fatalities on roadways.” As Walker notes, while the U.S. has decreased traffic deaths, other comparable nations have made similar accomplishments on a larger level.

If you see a parallel here with the United States withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, you’re not alone — and, in the article, Walker speculates about what the full implications of this would be. You’d think “fewer deaths as a result of road traffic” would be uncontroversial, and yet here we are.

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