Statement on New Q1 2024 Traffic Crash Fatality Data From NHTSA

  • June 25, 2024
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Statement by Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), on New Data on 2024 Q-1 Traffic Crash Fatalities

June 25, 2024 | (Washington, DC): While we are pleased traffic fatalities experienced a modest overall decline in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2024 first quarter estimates, they remain historically and egregiously high. In just three months, 8,650 people died on our roadways. Had this number of fatalities occurred in any other mode of transportation, there would be palpable outrage. The pain and suffering experienced by traffic violence can and must be addressed with proven safety solutions.

As we recommend in our 2024 Roadmap to Safety report, all states need to address the major contributing factors to motor vehicle crash fatalities, including impaired and distracted driving, speeding and lack of seat belt use. All-occupant primary enforcement seat belt laws get more people to buckle up and should be the standard law in every state. These should be implemented with other key safety improvements like graduated driver licensing programs that require 70 hours of supervised driving experience for young adult and novice drivers and laws to require motorcycle riders to wear helmets, among others.

Significant progress also can be realized on the federal level. In fact, this past April, we lauded the issuance of a final rule by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection for light vehicles because it will be a game-changer in reducing crashes. Any attempts to dilute or delay implementation of this rule must be vigorously opposed and rejected. Lives depend upon it.

With every passing day, delays completing other vital vehicle safety rulemakings mandated in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, Pub. L. 117-58) prolong our national nightmare. The U.S. DOT must issue additional minimum performance standards for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) including AEB for vehicles over 10,000 pounds, lane departure warning (LDW) and lane keeping assist (LKA), impaired driving prevention technology, detection and alert systems to prevent hot cars incidents, and other lifesaving upgrades.

Traffic fatalities remain above pre-COVID levels, and the death of 8,650 people in just three months is contemptable. We have solutions available to improve roadway safety and save lives. Future generations will look back on these moments and wonder why we took so long to act and improve.