FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 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 July 4th Travel and Roadway Safety
A surge of holiday travelers is expected on increasingly dangerous roadways while proven solutions to prevent crashes and save lives languish.
This July 4th holiday weekend, nearly 50 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home, according to AAA. This would bring travel volumes up to levels just shy of 2019, a development that comes amid ongoing issues with air travel. In fact, AAA predicts the percentage of people traveling by air will reach its lowest level since 2011. Crowded highways which continue to be plagued by increases in reckless driving are a recipe for disaster. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) urges swift action at both the federal and state levels on proven safety measures to reduce crashes, prevent injuries and save lives.
Recent research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) confirmed that emptier streets during the early months of the pandemic coincided with a dramatic rise in speeding, with upticks continuing in the most recent data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA has pointed to speeding, impaired driving and lack of seatbelt use as major factors contributing to skyrocketing crash deaths. An astonishing 42,915 people were killed in crashes in 2021, the most since 2005.
The tragedies of preventable deaths and injuries and the shattered lives of families and loved ones behind NHTSA’s statistics as well as the urgent need to prevent future crashes demand a robust and comprehensive response:
- NHTSA must swiftly advance minimum performance standards for collision avoidance technology including: automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and bicyclist detection; impaired driving prevention technology to curb a leading killer on our roads; and, occupant detection and alert technology to end “hot car” incidents. AEB has been shown to reduce front-to-rear crashes with injuries by more than half. Impaired driving prevention technology could save more than 9,000 lives each year. Effective technology to detect and alert others about a child trapped in a hot car exists and is already on the market. Hot car incidents must be front of mind as temperatures soar and routines change during the holiday period. The possibility of a child unknowingly perishing in a hot car is unthinkable, yet more than 1,000 vehicular heatstroke deaths have occurred since 1990.
- Every state in the U.S. has an opportunity to make its roadways safer by enacting 16 proven traffic safety laws detailed in our annual Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws.
- To reduce crashes and protect vulnerable road users, states must prioritize road design, maintenance and building that take into account all road users by employing a Safe System Approach, while also permitting the use of automated enforcement to curb speeding and red light running.
For those hitting the roads over the coming days, always make sure a sober, alert and aware driver is behind the wheel and all occupants are buckled up. No one gets into a car thinking they are going to get into a crash, but behaviors such as speeding, drowsy, distracted, drugged or drunk driving as well as failing to buckle up are occurring with alarming frequency. Prevent these perils and arrive safely at your July 4th destination.
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.