Fatal car accidents are less likely in big cities like San Diego, according
to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In fact, the death rate from
motor vehicle crashes in America’s 50 largest cities was 8.2 deaths per 100,000 people
compared to the national average of 11.1.
To compare urban and rural areas, CDC researchers analyzed 2009 crash data.
They found that people in the country’s 50 largest metropolitan
statistical areas (MSAs) represented 54 percent of the U.S. population,
but accounted for only 40 percent of that year’s crash deaths.
Although the overall motor vehicle fatality rates for major cities were
generally lower than the national rate, rates varied widely across the
country. The safest metropolitan areas included New York City, San Francisco,
Oakland and the greater Cleveland and Boston areas. In general, rates
were higher in MSAs in the southern United States.
According to the
CDC, urban sprawl, which is a function of residential density, land use mix,
presence (or absence) of town centers, and street accessibility (a measure
of street density and interconnectedness), might provide an explanation
for the differences. The CDC notes that previous research has shown that
sprawl is more common in the southern United States, and that MVC death
rates are higher in sprawling metropolitan areas than in compact metropolitan areas.
The fatality trends also extended to younger drivers. Although younger
drivers are at greatest risk for a fatal car accident, teens and young
adults were still safer in urban areas. The death rate was 13.0 per 100,000
in MSAs and an even lower 10.9 per 100,000 in the major cities, according
to the CDC report.