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Traffic accidents, fatalities now examples of structural racism: 'Because of race-based decisions'

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Is anything or anyone safe from accusations of racism? Apparently not. Now, even occurrences of traffic accidents that result in fatalities reek of systemic racism.

At least that's what some experts are claiming.

What are the details?

A recently published NBC News report suggested black people are disproportionately the victims of motor vehicle accidents, therein revealing inherent discrimination in traffic accidents.

Data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed 38,680 people died in motor vehicle accidents last year. The share of black people who died in those crashes increased by 23% from 2019.

The disproportionate impact, according to Smart Growth America President Calvin Gladney, is the result of systemic injustice exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"You see this disproportionately in Black and brown communities often because of race-based decisions of the past," Gladney told NBC News.

"You go to Black and brown communities, you go to lower-income communities and you don't see many sidewalks. You don't see as many pedestrian crossings. The types of streets that go through Black and brown neighborhoods are like mini highways where the speed limit is 35 or 45," he added.

Norman Garrick, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Connecticut, agreed that systemic discrimination is driving the disparity.

"Black people tend to be overrepresented as walkers in this country," Garrick told NBC. "This is not by choice. In many cases, Black folks cannot afford motor vehicles. And people that walk in this country tend to experience a much, much higher rate of traffic fatality. We're talking eight to 10 times more. It's a perfect storm of a lot of horrible forces."

So what will fix this problem? According to Gladney, President Joe Biden's American Jobs Plan is exactly what the doctor ordered.

What about the American Jobs Plan?

The massive $2 trillion infrastructure bill, introduced this spring, has little to do with infrastructure. The bill, according to some critics, is basically the Green New Deal wrapped in more tolerable language.

But, as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has already said, the bill will address the racism that is allegedly baked into American infrastructure.

"There is racism physically built into some of our highways, and that's why the jobs plan has specifically committed to reconnect some of the communities that were divided by these dollars," Buttigieg said in April.

The bill also "includes $20 billion for a new program that will reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic investments and ensure new projects increase opportunity, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access." Biden's plan, then, would tear down existing highways and build new ones in such localities. Ironically, the plan cites highways in New Orleans and Syracuse, two cities historically controlled by Democrats.

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