FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 18, 2020
CONTACT: Pete Daniels / email@example.com / 301-442-2249 (C)
Statement of Cathy Chase, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), On Release of 2019 Motor Vehicle Crash Data
36,096 people killed and 2.74 million people injured in 2019
While today’s report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates a slight two percent decrease in motor vehicle crash fatalities during 2019, 36,096 people were killed and an additional 2.74 million people were injured on our Nation’s roadways. This is completely unacceptable – especially considering proven safety technologies are available and lifesaving laws could be enacted in all states.
Most notably, we experienced a ten percent increase in fatalities in distraction-affected crashes, a rise in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities as a proportion of all fatalities, and alcohol-impaired driving continues to claim more than 10,000 lives. Unfortunately, this news comes on the heels of troubling escalations in risky behavior experienced on our roadways during the first part of this year. Specifically, more speeding and impaired driving as well as fewer people using seat belts were reported, trends that likely contributed to a substantial upturn in the fatality rate for the first half of 2020, according to NHTSA estimates.
Additionally, more than 5,000 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks, and injuries of large truck occupants went up by 20 percent. Perhaps now more than ever, our Nation is relying on truck drivers to deliver vaccines, personal protective equipment and other needed goods and services. We can and must do more to make truck drivers’ “workplaces” safer.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) such as automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning (LDW) and blind spot warning (BSW) are proven to prevent and mitigate crashes but are not required as standard equipment on all new vehicles. Advanced impaired driving prevention technology could prevent thousands of crashes and fatalities every year. Advocates was pleased to see these and other safety improvements included in the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2) passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. As the new Congress convenes next month and the incoming Biden/Harris Administration takes office, these technologies that hold remarkable potential should be advanced with urgency.
Relatedly, states preparing for the 2021 legislative session can make our roadways safer by adopting 16 optimal traffic safety laws addressing the issues of occupant protection, child passenger safety, teen driver safety, impaired driving and distracted driving. Advocates will release the annual Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws on Monday, January 11 at 11:00 A.M. EST, which rates each state on the enactment of 16 lifesaving laws with the goal of spurring action to close dangerous gaps and loopholes. For more information, please visit www.saferoads.org.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance of consumer, medical, public health, law enforcement and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to make America’s roads safer. Advocates’ mission is the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs that prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives, reduce injuries, and contain costs.