Car culture disproportionately kills Black Americans. The pandemic made things worse.

In total, an estimated 38,680 Americans died in motor vehicle traffic crashes last year. It’s the largest total for traffic deaths since 2007, and nearly every racial group saw some increase in fatalities, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of those deaths, nearly 20 percent were Black victims, while Black people represent just 13 percent of the U.S. population.

“Even with fewer people driving as we saw with COVID-19, we’ll still see greater disparities in traffic crashes until we have a reparations-style infrastructure investment in Black, Latino, and Native American communities,” Brown said. This is because the likelihood of a person of color being injured in a traffic collision has direct ties to decades of racist urban planning.