FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 2, 2022
CONTACT: Pete Daniels / firstname.lastname@example.org / 301-442-2249 (C)
Statement of Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), on 2020 Crash Deaths and Injuries Report
Latest data reveals an escalating crisis on our roadways which requires comprehensive and immediate action from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Congress and State Legislatures.
Data released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showing that 38,824 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2020 is tragic, especially considering known, proven ways to prevent crashes are not being implemented. The fatality rate increased by 21 percent and is the highest annual total since 2007. This number is especially stunning considering the estimated number of police-reported crashes and injuries decreased, by 22 and 17 percent respectively. In nearly half (45 percent) of the fatal crashes, speeding, impaired driving and unbuckled drivers were involved. Fatalities of vulnerable road users – bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists – also rose to historic levels. During the beginning stages of the pandemic, our roadways became reckless racetracks. Bold leadership and immediate action by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Congress and state elected officials are needed to advance vehicle, roadway and traffic safety upgrades to reduce the alarming toll of preventable crashes and injuries.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, Pub. L. 117-58), signed into law last November, directs the U.S. DOT to make much-needed progress on requirements and performance standards for lifesaving technologies such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) and impaired driving prevention systems. Given the DOT’s recently stated goal of achieving zero roadway fatalities, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) has been urging the Department to view IIJA provisions as a “floor” and not a “ceiling” for what must be achieved.
Congressional oversight is a vital aspect of ensuring that the effort to address the public safety crisis on our roadways is moving forward expeditiously. Today, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will testify before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on implementation of the IIJA. Advocates calls on other Congressional committees to do the same in the coming weeks and months.
In January, Advocates released our 19th annual Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws which revealed that 390 traffic safety laws are missing throughout the country. No state has all 16 recommended laws.
Each of the 38,824 persons killed leaves tremendous voids in the lives of their loved ones, their children, parents, spouses, friends and communities. There is no excuse for inaction or delay by our federal and state leaders.
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.