Another tragic increase in U.S. roadway deaths feels like Groundhog Day but can be reversed

Traffic Safety Pulse News

(GHSA) The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 9,560 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first quarter of 2022 – up 7% from the year before and the highest number of deaths between January and March in 20 years. First quarter roadway fatalities have jumped 42% since 2011, and the death rate measured by vehicle miles traveled has risen 30% during that time. Tragically, the U.S. is on its way to a third straight year of surging roadway deaths.

Another new report of an increase in lives lost may feel a bit like Groundhog Day, but we must not become desensitized to the tragedy of roadway deaths. Instead, our country must focus on immediately implementing the National Roadway Safety Strategy that was released by the U. S. Department of Transportation earlier this year in partnership with leading safety organizations including GHSA.

This awful news underscores the urgency of implementing this strategy and the need for strong and consistent leadership at NHTSA. Unfortunately, last week NHTSA Administrator Steve Cliff announced his departure. GHSA and other leading national safety groups have urged President Biden to quickly nominate a qualified individual that can guide NHTSA through this turbulent time in traffic safety. The National Roadway Safety Strategy demands that all levels of government be bold and aggressive in making our roadways safer, and a strong NHTSA can and should lead that charge.

NHTSA Chief Counsel Ann Carlson, who will assume Cliff’s duties in an acting capacity, will keynote the opening session at the GHSA 2022 Annual Meeting, Sept. 17-21, in Louisville, Ky. The partnership between NHTSA and states is essential to driving down roadway crashes, deaths and injuries. GHSA is pleased that Carlson will also be meeting with state safety leaders while in Louisville to discuss how we can strengthen our partnership to reverse this trend and save lives. That can and must be done.