The United States is still in a traffic violence crisis, according to recently released traffic fatalities data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a division of the US Department of Transportation. The agency’s preliminary estimates for the first half of 2021 show that approximately “20,175 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, an increase of about 0.5% as compared to 20,070 fatalities NHTSA projected for the first half of 2021.” At the same time, the NHTSA projects a decline in fatalities in the second quarter of 2021, the first such decline since year-to-year fatalities began increasing in Q3 2020.
In a statement about the figures, NHTSA Acting Director Ann Carlson said: “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. Now is the time for all stakeholders, including states, local transportation entities, industry, non-profits and others, to leverage the significant funding and tools provided under the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and join with USDOT in implementing the National Roadway Safety Strategy’s safe system approach, so we can turn the tide on years of increasing deaths.”
Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation announced its National Roadway Safety Strategy, a “comprehensive approach” to slash injuries and deaths on the nation’s roads. The strategy has already seen the NHTSA’s proposal to add advanced driver assistance technologies to new cars; a final rule on rear impact guards for trailers and semitrailers; and the DOT’s issuance of “a notice of funding opportunity for $1 billion for the first year of the brand-new Safe Streets and Roads for All program.”
In a statement about the NHTSA’s traffic fatalities data, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said: “Traffic deaths appear to be declining for the first time since 2020, but they are still at high levels that call for urgent and sustained action. These deaths are preventable, not inevitable, and we should act accordingly. Safety is our guiding mission at the Department of Transportation, and we will redouble our efforts to reduce the tragic number of deaths on our nation’s roads.”
More information about the NHTSA’s data showing the first decrease in traffic fatalities since they began rising in 2020 is available via the NHTSA’s press release.