Road fatalities, reckless driving on the rise nationwide, says NHTSA

On October 28, 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Half (January-June) of 2021. The data showed the largest six-month increase ever recorded.

It is estimated that 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first six months of 2021. NHTSA also released behavioral research findings from March 2020 – June 2021. The findings found that incidents of speeding and traveling without a seat belt remain higher than before the pandemic.

The Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Half (January-June) of 2021 summary can be seen here.

The behavioral research findings can be found here.

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“This is a crisis. More than 20,000 people died on U.S. roads in the first six months of 2021, leaving countless loved ones behind. We cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply a part of everyday life in America,” said United States Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Today we are announcing that we will produce the Department’s first ever National Roadway Safety Strategy to identify action steps for everyone working to save lives on the road. No one will accomplish this alone. It will take all levels of government, industries, advocates, engineers, and communities across the country working together toward the day when family members no longer have to say goodbye to loved ones because of a traffic crash.”

According to the USDOT press release, “The strategy will be rooted in the Safe System Approach principles and identifies significant actions the Department will take to help ensure: Safer People, Safer Roads, Safer Vehicles, Safer Speeds, and Post-Crash Care. The strategy will focus on new priorities that target our most significant and urgent problems and are expected to have the most substantial impact.” The strategy will be released in January.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has sped up the Focused Approach to Safety Program and issued nine new Proven Safety Countermeasures. The Focused Approach to Safety Program has informed the fifteen states and Puerto Rico who account for nearly half of nationwide road fatalities that they will receive technical assistance resources. The nine new Proven Safety Countermeasures are:

  • Rectangular rapid flashing beacons
  • Crosswalk visibility enhancements
  • Bicycle lanes
  • Lighting
  • Pavement friction management
  • Wider edge lines
  • Variable speed limits
  • Appropriate speed limit-setting
  • Speed safety cameras.

These underutilized road design elements have proven to make roads safer.

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CSG|EAST Transportation Policy Co-Consultants:
Steve Hewitt,
Don Hannon,
Transportation Policy Newsletter November 5, 2021
“Keeping our Members informed.”

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