NHTSA Reports Surge in Traffic Deaths

by Gwen Newell

Earlier this month, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) reported a surge in traffic deaths during the first quarter of 2021. According to new data, there were 8,730 people who were killed on U.S. roadways – a 10.5% increase from the same period last year. Even more eye-opening, traffic deaths rose significantly even though there was a 2.1% decline in vehicle miles traveled.

These new statistics are another troubling result of the dangerous driving that has plagued roadways since the start of the pandemic and furthermore reinforces the need to focus more on proven countermeasures. As a result, State Highway Safety Offices are working with their partners to ramp up these countermeasures (high-visibility enforcement of life-saving traffic laws) which are proven to address speeding, drunk and drug-impaired driving, and seat belt use. However, too many motorists fail to recognize their risky driving poses a threat to themselves and others.

To combat dangerous driving, motorists must understand this important fact: people are needlessly dying on our roadways and we can help prevent these crashes by slowing down, stowing our cell phones, and ALWAYS driving sober and buckling up. Additionally, we must use every available tool – including equitable enforcement, community outreach and infrastructure improvements – to address this problem.

The newest Countermeasures That Work publication, which was released by NHTSA and originally developed for the agency by GHSA, showcases a comprehensive approach to eliminating highway deaths and improving safety for all road users. GHSA is also urging NHTSA to take the necessary steps to remove administrative barriers that prevent the implementation of federally grant-funded highway safety programs.

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