Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released new traffic fatality data estimating that 9,560 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the first quarter of 2022. If this estimate is accurate, that would be an increase of about 7% from the same quarter in 2021 and the highest number of first-quarter fatalities in 20 years. For the entire year of 2021, NHTSA estimates that 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes – a 16 year high.
It is obvious the United States of America has an urgent traffic safety problem. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg called it a crisis earlier this year, a significant recognition of the tragedies on our roadways. People who bike and walk have borne the brunt of increases in traffic deaths over the last decade, but all Americans have been impacted.
The United States has stood apart from other countries making progress on traffic safety for several years now.
Where once the United States was a leader on traffic safety it is now clear that we are a laggard. Reversing our sleepwalk towards a deeper crisis will take sustained action and a willingness to re-examine the basis of our approaches that have not served us well in recent years.
See how the U.S. has become one of the most dangerous places to drive, bike, or walk based on data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) placed into a bar chart “race” displaying each countries rate of traffic fatalities per million inhabitants from 2010-2020.