Los Angeles is notorious for its aggressive drivers, but Oklahoma pedestrians trying to get from Point A to Point B in one piece might take their chances in Los Angeles over a familiar site to many Oklahoman’s – the Sooner state’s capital of Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City’s 2017 rate of 3.88 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population is higher than spiraling metropolises like LA, NYC, and Chicago – in fact, even Tulsa’s 2017 rate of 3.24 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population is ahead of those cities.
Key Oklahoma Car Accident Statistics
Part of Oklahoma City’s surprising ranking can be explained away by the sheer population density of megacities like Los Angeles. But OKC, with over 600,000 permanent residents, isn’t exactly a small town either.
So, what gives?
Further review of the latest annual report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration yields a few figures that might point us in the right direction:
- In 2017, 36 percent of all passenger vehicle fatalities in Oklahoma were involved in a rollover accident.
- More than half of all pickup occupants killed in traffic collisions died as a result of a rollover.
- 21 percent of all Oklahoma traffic fatalities in 2017 were killed in speeding-related incidents.
- 12% of speeding-related fatalities occurred in non-interstate collectors or non-interstate local roads, the streets closest to where people live.
- In 2018, at least 60 pedestrians – 9 percent of all traffic fatalities – were killed in the state of Oklahoma.
- 2017 saw an even greater number, with 79 pedestrians killed in Oklahoma during traffic incidents.
- Observed restraint use by passenger vehicle occupants in Oklahoma lags well behind the national average; Oklahoma’s 2018 rate of 85.6% trails the national average by exactly 4 points.
Although 225 motor vehicle crash deaths occurred in urban Oklahoma in 2018, the vast majority of crash deaths (429, or 65%) in the state actually took place in land areas designated for rural use – this far exceeds the nationwide average of 45%.
Key California Accident Statistics
Those Oklahoma figures are quite helpful on their own, but their value is put on full display when compared to recent figures for the State of California. Both the NHTSA and the International Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have useful data for this comparison:
- California recorded 1.02 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2018, well below the national average of 1.13.
- Although Los Angeles’ rate was below that of Oklahoma City, Fresno, Sacramento, and Bakersfield all had pedestrian fatality rates ABOVE Oklahoma City’s rate of 3.33 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population.
- 30 percent of California traffic fatalities in 2017 occurred during speeding-related traffic incidents.
- In 2017, observed restraint use in California was 96%, one of the nation’s highest marks.
- 33 percent of all passenger vehicle fatalities in California were involved in a rollover accident.
- More than half of all utility truck occupants killed in traffic collisions died as a result of a rollover.
Only 30 percent of all California traffic fatalities occurred in rural settings, with a far greater amount of crashes occurring in urban California.
When you add it all together, there are a couple of key points that explain why pedestrians have been killed at such a high rate in Oklahoma City since 2017:
- There have been a high number of fatal speeding incidents on local roads and non-local collectors, where pedestrians are most likely to be.
- The high number of pickup truck fatalities suggests that there are more pickup trucks on the road; the bigger the vehicle, the more damage to a pedestrian.
With cities around the world committing to Vision Zero, hopefully Oklahoma continues to take steps to make their state a safer one.
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