The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its traffic safety facts report that determines an early estimate of motor vehicle traffic fatalities for the first nine months of 2021. In response, the Department of Transportation has announced plans to deploy more safety precautions for drivers on the road.
According to the report, there were over 30,000 car-crash deaths in the U.S. in the first nine months of 2021, a 12% increase compared to the same time period a year prior. Not only does this stand as the highest number of fatalities during the first nine months of any year since 2006, but it’s also the highest percentage increase YOY during the first nine months in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s history.
The NHTSA projects that during the first nine months of 2021, 38 states saw an increase in fatalities compared to 2020. Vehicle miles traveled in the same time period increased by 11.7% compared to the year prior.
In response to the report and as a part of Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the national Department of Transportation announced the National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) to serve as a system to prevent crashes and provide concrete steps in how to address the uptick in road fatalities. The strategy is a collaboration between the Federal Highway Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and will use a five-pronged model to address safety: people, roads, vehicles, speeds and post-crash care. Some key actions within this model include:
- Working with states and local road owners to build and maintain safer roadway
- Using technology to improve the safety of motor vehicles like updating the New Car Assessment Program
- Investing in road safety through funding, behavioral research and interventions, and investing in the Highway Safety Improvement Program
- Enforcing at least 15% of a state’s highway safety improvement program funds to address pedestrians, bicyclists and other nonmotorized road users if those groups make up 15% or more of the state’s crash fatalities
The NHTSA also plans to move forward with requiring automatic emergency braking in all new passenger vehicles and set new standards on car safety performance by emphasizing crash-avoidance features such as lane-keeping assistance.