The United States recorded nearly 43,000 road deaths in 2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The estimated 42,915 deaths represent a 10.5% increase from the previous year, when 38,824 deaths were reported, and was the largest percentage increase since the agency began tracking data in 1975. .
“We are facing a crisis on America’s roads that we must resolve together,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
NHTSA said 44 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, are expected to have an increase in road deaths in 2022, with Texas, California and Florida making up the top three.
A number of factors have contributed to the increases – with no signs of slowing down, although final figures will be released in the fall.
“An increase in dangerous driving – speeding, distracted driving, driving while impaired by drugs and alcohol, not wearing seat belts – during the pandemic, combined with roads designed for speed rather than safety, has wiped out a decade and a half of progress in reducing traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities,” said Russ Martin, senior director of policy and government relations for the Governors Highway Safety Association.
NHTSA said several new regulations, such as requiring automatic emergency braking systems on new vehicles, will take years to begin yielding positive results.
NHTSA Deputy Administrator Steven Cliff described the rise in deaths as preventable and needed to be addressed urgently.
“We will redouble our efforts on safety and we need everyone – state and local governments, safety advocates, automakers and drivers – to join us. All of our lives depend on it,” Cliff said.
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