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NSC: Traffic deaths remain historically high

car crash
Photo: Tashi-Delek/iStockphoto

Itasca, IL — For the second straight year, more than 46,000 people died in preventable traffic crashes in 2022, according to a preliminary estimate released by the National Safety Council.

Although the estimated total of 46,270 deaths is down 2% from 2021, the figure still marks a 9% increase from 2020, when 42,339 were recorded.

“From drivers and passengers to pedestrians and cyclists, road users of all ages are perishing in preventable crashes in the United States,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said. “Words matter, and as a country, we need to learn and understand that there are no vehicle ‘accidents.’ Each crash that occurs on America’s roads is entirely preventable and unacceptable.

“We must change the way we think about designing and moving around in our communities, understanding that people will make mistakes, and the cost of those mistakes should not be serious injury or death.”

While urging policymakers, employers and individuals to prioritize roadway safety, the council applauds a recent update in language from “accidents” to “crashes” in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

NSC further highlights that in its National Roadway Safety Strategy, released in January 2022, the Department of Transportation set a goal of zero fatalities for U.S. roads – the first time by the federal government – and adopts the Safe System approach, which takes a holistic look at road safety.

The council also notes that DOT recently announced its Safe Streets and Roads For All grant program. The grants – aimed at aiding regional, local, and tribal communities plan for and make necessary safety enhancements – and the Road to Zero Coalition’s community traffic safety grants give the country “a clear path toward enacting a safer mobility system to combat roadway fatalities and put zero traffic deaths within reach for every community.”

Meanwhile, everyone who shares the road can:
Prepare before you go: Before hitting the road, make sure your car is safe for driving. Check oil levels and tire pressure, and visit to see if your vehicle has an open recall (the repair will be free).
Buckle up: Since 1975, seat belts are estimated to have saved more than 375,000 lives in the United States. Buckle up, while also making sure you have appropriate car seats installed correctly.
Drive distraction-free: Thousands of people have died in car crashes involving cellphone use. Put your phone away and #JustDrive.
Slow down: Speeding is a factor in more than a quarter of all traffic deaths. Drive the speed limit and don’t exceed it. Be sure to pay close attention to pedestrians and bikers to keep all road users safe.
Designate a sober driver or arrange alternate transportation: Alcohol is only one cause of impaired driving. Drugs – including opioids, marijuana and some over-the-counter medicines – can cause drowsiness, alter visual function, and affect mental judgment and motor skills.

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