Oct 7, 2022 - News

Philadelphia traffic deaths dropped last year but remain high

Data: PennDOT; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Commuting in Philly may be down, but our roads aren't much safer.

Driving the news: Traffic fatalities in Philly dipped by about 20% last year from an all-time high in 2020, according to the city's annual Vision Zero report released Thursday.

  • Yes, but: 2021 was still the second deadliest year for traffic fatalities in the city since 1999. Meanwhile, serious injury crashes are up more than 9% over last year, per the report.
  • "After a tragic spike in traffic deaths in 2020, we had hoped for a dramatic decrease in 2021. This was not the case," Mike Carroll, the city's deputy managing director for transportation, said in a statement.

The big picture: Philly has one of the highest rates of traffic fatalities among large U.S. cities, second only to Los Angeles.

Between the lines: While Philly's total traffic crashes have been on a downward trend since 2016 and dropped significantly in 2020 and 2021, traffic deaths remain elevated compared to pre-pandemic years.

  • Speed remains the top cause for traffic deaths and serious injuries from traffic crashes.
  • Walking pedestrians accounted for the largest share of traffic deaths in Philadelphia between 2017-2021 (38%), even though they were involved in only 15% of crashes.

Zoom in: Fatal crashes disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic Philadelphians, and those who live in predominantly low-income ZIP codes, according to new data included in the report this year.

  • Traffic deaths involving African Americans have spiked in recent years — averaging 72 fatalities annually from 2020 to 2021, up from around 43 between 2012-19.

The latest: So far, 2022 traffic deaths, through August, remain on par with 2021 levels, according to the report.

  • "This perpetuates the increase over pre-pandemic rates of traffic deaths and shows more must be done in order to understand and reverse this trend," the city states in the report.

What to watch: Philly is aiming to reduce speed limits on all city streets to 25 mph next year.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Philadelphia stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more