Yup, Cities Are Safer than Suburbs and Countryside

Traffic accidents tend to be more fatal in the countryside, where cars travel at higher speeds.
Traffic accidents tend to be more fatal in the countryside, where cars travel at higher speeds.

Another study has come out suggesting that life in the city is safer than life in the suburbs and countryside. In “Safety in Numbers: Are Major Cities the Safest Places in the United States,” Sage R. Myers and several co-authors run the numbers on fatal injuries from a wide range of causes, ranging from murders, automobile accidents and suicides to fire, flood, industrial accidents and even animal attacks.

And how many city dwellers die in forest fires? Eh? I bet you didn't think of that.
And how many city dwellers die in forest fires? Eh? I bet you didn’t think of that.

Between 1999 to 2006, nearly 1.3 million people died of injuries in the United States. Injury is the No. 1 cause of death for Americans 44 years old and younger.  From a political perspective, the injuries that matter the most are those caused by crime. Crime generates the most fear and has driven the middle class from central cities where crime rates are highest. But crime accounts for only a fraction of all injuries, and cities actually tend to be safer. The conclusion:

Despite public perception to the contrary, when all types of injuries are considered together, rural areas, not urban, bear a disproportionate amount of injury-related mortality risk in the United States. Although variability among urban areas clearly exists, when urban areas were considered as a group, risk of serious injury resulting in death was approximately 20% lower than in the most rural areas of the country.

Speaking on a national scale, the incidence of motor vehicle fatalities, which occur more frequently in low-density human settlement patterns, outweigh the incidence of murders, which occur more frequently in higher-density areas.

But there is a fair amount of variability within the counties of major cities. San Jose and New York are the safest two of 23 major cities detailed in the report, while Las Vegas and Philadelphia were the least safe. No figures were provided for Virginia cities or Washington, D.C.


Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


One response to “Yup, Cities Are Safer than Suburbs and Countryside”

  1. accurate Avatar

    Dad gum Jim, you are sooooo in bed with the ‘lets-get-everyone-to-live-in-a-crumby-apartment-downtown’ crowd, that sometimes it’s painful to read. Like anything else, there are pluses (or at least some folks think so) and minuses (live in one and the minuses become glaring). And I get, that in a free society you want the choice to be there, but man you play the ‘Smart-growth’ card an awful lot.

    Two things – first, I’ve been waiting for a posting like this because I kept mental track of two weekends ago; how the weekend went for the wife and I. We started with a trip to Sam’s club, where we picked up $80 worth of stuff that will eventually get used, but would have been much more expensive buying smaller sizes at the grocery store. Stuff like toilet paper (48 rolls), kleenex(16 boxes), carboys of water(2 carboys), toothpaste (package of 6 tubes), whole bean coffee (4lb bag), and a few other items. No surprise, this was a car trip, can’t imagine how much more expensive it would have been if I’d visited the local grocery store (I have a WalMart about a mile, which is walking distance, from me) and bought these items one and two at a time and as needed. This stuff was not in a size that would have been easy to carry, either walking, biking or for someone using public transportation.

    Next, we stopped at a local grocery store (not the Walmart) on the way home to buy stuff that either we couldn’t get at Sam’s club or that for some reason we didn’t want to buy at Sam’s club (coffee creamer, refills for toothbrush, lunch meat, milk, etc). Got home, drove into the garage, unloaded the car trunk into the kitchen, put things away, done. CAN’T imagine doing that walking, biking or using public transportation, certainly not in one trip (plus hard to imagine doing it in the hot Texas summer sun). Later that night we DROVE to a round dance/square dance. The drive one way was over 20 miles and was pretty much the closest one to us. Again, any other means of transportation would have pretty much been out of the question. In the morning we got up and DROVE to church, stopped by the pharmacy on the way home. That afternoon, we DROVE to a round dance class, again the drive was about 20 miles. What is the chance that enough square dance/round dance people would live close enough in urban apartments to be able to do a dance (let alone you need a cuer or caller to do these dances) – my guess, the odds are really against you. Jim living in some kind of cluster, depending on your feet, a bike or public transportation just plain isn’t very fun (even less fun as you age).

    Finally, as a bit of a tribute to your love for urban living (and by the way, there pretty much isn’t ANYWHERE in the Houston or Portland urban core that I’d feel safe walking in after 9PM). I present to you, what I dub the iApartment, I expect IKEA to be selling these anytime now.


Leave a Reply