Road Deaths Break Records In First Quarter of 2022: NHTSA Reports

Studies show that traffic-related deaths saw an uptick during the pandemic, and they have shown no signs of a change in trends. Mid-year, NHTSA released a report showed that approximately 42,900 people died in traffic accidents, breaking a 16-year record.

New data released by NHTSA for the first quarter of 2022 shows the trend to be worsening. According to the agency, there was a 7 percent increase in road deaths in the first quarter of 2022 compared to 2021. This figure is the most significant quarterly increase in fatalities recorded since 2002, even as automakers go to lengths to improve the safety of cars.

A 3-Year Trend

An alarming rise in traffic fatalities was first observed in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. Despite having fewer cars on the road compared to previous years, 2020 recorded the highest number of road fatalities since 2007.

In 2020, experts blamed empty roads and low enforcement of traffic rules for the spike. Many experts were surprised when 2021 showed similar trends, despite the number of cars on the road returning to pre-pandemic levels. The only explanation for the trend in 2021 was terrible driving habits picked up during 2020.

A Wake-Up Call

Fatalities registered in the first quarter of 2022 should be a wake-up call to all players in the transport sector to find the root cause of the problem and reverse these trends.

Although the NHTSA report did not explain the reason for the spike in accidents in the first quarter of this year, it was evident that some states experienced significant increases.

Delaware, for example, saw a 163.2 percent spike; the District of Columbia had a 62.5 percent increase, North Carolina 52.1 percent, and 37.6 percent in New York.

“These figures may sound like statistics, but for people working closely with the victims, the level of suffering you witness is unfathomable,” says car accident lawyer Breanna L. Hunt of OnderLaw.

Speed is a Major Factor

One area of traffic deaths that has been the center of attention for road safety experts is the increasing trend in pedestrian fatalities. According to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), pedestrian deaths increased by 4.8 percent between 2019 and 2020. In 2021, the number of pedestrians struck while walking was 7,485, the largest in four decades.

Speeding is a leading cause of concern for highway safety regulators. Cases of speeding-related accidents are more prevalent among teenage drivers. According to GHSA, over 4,930 teenagers aged 16 to 19 died in speeding-related crashes between 2015 and 2019.

Federal Government’s Input

In January this year, Pete Buttigieg, the US Transport Secretary, unveiled the National Roadway Safety Strategy, which aims to reduce fatalities on American roads. According to Buttigieg, the long-term plan of the Biden administration through the National Roadway Safety Strategy is to have states build safer roads and invest in public awareness to help turn around the trend of increased road fatalities.

Local and state governments can benefit from grants offered by the federal government through the Biden administration’s infrastructure law. However, to qualify, states must show that they intend to use the funds to improve safety by building new and safer roads and improving existing ones.

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