Roadway deaths down slightly in first half of 2022, but still too high: NSC

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Itasca, IL — The number of people who died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States decreased 1% in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2021, according to preliminary estimates released by the National Safety Council.

NSC reports that 21,340 people were killed on the nation’s roads over the first six months of the year, with the first three being more deadly. Citing a report from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the nonprofit organization says traffic deaths rose 7% during the first quarter of the year. Since April, however, roads have experienced less loss of human life: June marked the third straight month with deaths below 2021 levels and the first month below 2020 levels, according to Injury Facts – an online source of preventable death and injury statistics compiled by the council.

Although the decrease may indicate a positive trend, the data also shows that the number of roadway fatalities this year is up 15% compared with 2020.

“We must not become complacent,” said Mark Chung, executive vice president of roadway practice at NSC. “Traffic violence plagues our communities, and thousands of lives lost each month is simply unacceptable. A 1% decrease only symbolizes a glimmer of hope and serves as confirmation that now is the time to combine proven countermeasures with innovative solutions so we can save lives. The work is far from over.”

The semiannual estimate was released less than two weeks after Steven Cliff announced his resignation as NHTSA administrator, leaving the agency without a nominated and confirmed leader. NSC is calling on President Joe Biden to quickly nominate a safety-focused successor and urges the Senate to then prioritize the confirmation process.

“It’s deeply concerning we are without a confirmed NHTSA administrator at a time of so much death on our roadways and when NHTSA has much work to do, such as advancing safety requirements on vehicles and implementing the Safe System approach,” said Jane Terry, vice president of government affairs at NSC. “These preliminary figures are no cause for celebration and support the case, once again, for a designated leader at the federal level who will put the safety of all road users first. This is a significant setback in the shared efforts to improve roadway safety, and NSC stands ready to support NHTSA as they navigate through this time.”