NHTSA: U.S. road deaths remain at crisis levels

This article was originally published here: https://www.autonews.com/regulation-safety/us-road-deaths-down-still-crisis-levels.

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WASHINGTON — U.S. traffic deaths declined for the first time since 2020 but remain at levels that call for “urgent and sustained action,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said last week.

From April to June, 10,590 people died in vehicle crashes on U.S. roads, down 4.9 percent from the same period in 2021, according to NHTSA estimates. The agency said it’s the first decline in fatalities after seven consecutive quarters of year-to-year increases since the third quarter of 2020.

Still, early projections show roadway deaths increased in the first six months of 2022. Through June, an estimated 20,175 people died in crashes, up 0.5 percent from the first half of 2021.

“Although it is heartening to see a projected decline in roadway deaths in recent months, the number of people dying on roads in this country remains a crisis,” said Ann Carlson, NHTSA’s acting administrator.

Carlson assumed the role after Steven Cliff’s departure from the agency this month to run the California Air Resources Board.

The U.S. Transportation Department said it has been working on several initiatives aimed at significantly reducing serious and fatal injuries on the country’s roads and highways, supported in part by funding and provisions in the infrastructure law signed by President Joe Biden in November.

“Proven solutions to this national disaster remain untapped and unused,” Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said in a statement.

Roadway fatalities

10,590 people died in car crashes in the 2nd quarter this year, down 4.9 percent from the same period in 2021, according to NHTSA. U.S. traffic deaths have risen steadily over the last decade.

U.S. traffic fatalities

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* Statistical projections

Fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled

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SOURCE: NHTSA National Center for Statistics and Analysis, * Statistical projections

Chase urged the Biden administration to act immediately on vehicle safety provisions in the infrastructure law, including setting performance standards for automatic emergency braking systems that respond to all road users and work in all lighting conditions and requiring impaired driving prevention technology in new light-duty cars and trucks.

“It is devastating that our nation is not leading the world in lifesaving measures to improve safety for all road users,” she said. “It is unspeakable that we are one of the worst in motor vehicle crash deaths among other high-income countries.”

U.S. traffic deaths rose 11 percent in 2021 to nearly 43,000 — the highest count in a single year since 2005, according to NHTSA estimates.

“These deaths are preventable, not inevitable, and we should act accordingly,” Buttigieg said.

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