The number of traffic fatalities in the US rose 0.5% in the first half of 2022 to 20,175, the highest number since 2006, according to an early estimate by US regulators.
The number of road deaths has risen after the pandemic lockdowns ended as more drivers engaged in unsafe behaviour. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Monday in the second quarter, the number of road fatalities fell by 4.9%, the first decline in fatalities after seven consecutive quarters of year-on-year increase in fatalities, but still significantly above the level of before the pandemic.
US road deaths hit their 20-year high in early 2022
As U.S. roads became less congested during the pandemic, some motorists noticed that police were less likely to issue fines, experts say, likely resulting in riskier behavior on the roads.
NHTSA research indicates that the number of incidents of speeding and traveling without seat belts was higher than before the pandemic.
In 2021, pedestrian deaths rose 13% to 7,342, the most since 1981. The number of people killed by bicycles rose 5% to 985, the most since at least 1980, the NHTSA said.
Pedestrian deaths expected to reach highest level in 40 years
NHTSA lost its trustee earlier this month after Steve Cliff took a senior position on the California Air Resources Board and the agency is led on an acting basis by its general counsel Ann Carlson, who said that despite the decline in the second quarter, “the number of people that dies on the roads in this country remains a crisis.”
Security advocacy groups have urged the administration to act quickly to fill the NHTSA’s top position, which was never filled under President Donald Trump.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters last week that the administration is “actively working” to select a candidate to fill the NHTSA’s top position.
Buttigieg said the United States needs safer drivers, vehicles, roads and speeds.
“These deaths are preventable, not inevitable, and we must act accordingly,” Buttigieg said in a statement Monday.
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