Are Low-Income Austinites More Likely to Be Injured or Killed in Car Accidents?

iStock_000001647108MediumDoes income correlate with personal injury in car accidents? A report from NPR earlier this year suggests that yes – low-income Austinites are more likely to suffer personal injury than their higher-income peers.

Traffic fatalities, according to the report, are on the decline nationwide. But those declines are not happening across the board. For those who possess less than a high school diploma, fatal car crash rates have actually gone up.

But why? Are the less-educated simply worse drivers? It’s not that simple.

Why Would Income Affect Car Accident Risk?

Generally, people with lower education have lower paying jobs and live in lower income neighborhoods. These neighborhoods may have less safe traffic conditions than higher income neighborhoods. Additionally, the less money a person has, the less safe their vehicle might be. Medium and higher-end cars often come with advanced safety features, such as mandatory frontal airbags, side airbags and rollover airbags, as well as automatic crash warnings and other features like backup cameras.

In Austin, many lower income people cannot afford a vehicle at all. These people may not be able to afford certain types of transport, like cabs and ridesharing, either. This means they must seek alternate transportation, such as buses, bikes or simply walking. And as we’ve seen recently in Austin, pedestrians and bicyclists face increased risk of injury or wrongful death in accidents.

And as the city gets more and more expensive to live in, these low-income citizens are pushed further and further to the outskirts of town, increasing their need for transportation and placing them in further undeveloped areas without sidewalks or bike lanes.



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