NHTSA: Early Estimates Show an Overall Increase in Roadway Deaths During 1H-2022

Early estimates from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration point to a slight increase in traffic fatalities during the first half of 2022. According to statistics issued by the NHSTA on September 19th, an estimated 20,175 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the first half of this year as compared to the 20,070 fatalities NHTSA projected for the first half of 2021, representing a 0.5% increase.

On a more positive note, however, the NHTSA is predicting a decline in traffic fatalities in the second quarter of 2022, or during the months of April, May, and June. If so, this would be the first decline in almost seven consecutive quarters since 2020.

“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,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “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.”

Aiming for Zero Roadway Deaths

Earlier this year, Secretary Buttigieg unveiled the National Roadway Safety Strategy, outlining his department’s vision towards significantly reducing serious injuries and deaths on highways, roads and streets. The impetus for this project stems from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides unprecedented funding for safety to achieve the Department’s ambitious, long-term goal of reaching zero roadway fatalities.

“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,” said Ann Carlson, NHTSA’s Acting Administrator. “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.”

Among the action items the USDOT has begun work on include the following:

  • In May, the Federal Highway Administration issued Complete Streets guidance and is encouraging States to develop complete streets using the formula funding delivered through the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 
  • In March, NHTSA issued a request for comment to proposed significant upgrades to the New Car Assessment Program, in part by proposing to add four more advanced driver assistance system technologies to those NHTSA already recommends. These new technologies would include blind spot detection, blind spot intervention, lane keeping assistance and pedestrian automatic emergency braking. The notice also describes the roadmap of the Agency’s plans to update NCAP in phases over the next 10 years, to potentially incorporate consideration of the vehicle’s safety features for people walking or biking around the car. 
  • In June, NHTSA issued a final rulemaking on rear impact guards for trailers and semitrailers. 
  • USDOT issued a notice of funding opportunity for $1 billion for the first year of the brand-new Safe Streets and Roads for All program funded by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

The NHTSA also noted that it has a Standing General Order to collect more data about crashes that occur when automated driving systems and advanced driver assistance systems are engaged. 

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