Traffic Deaths Increase

US traffic deaths way up; reckless driving blamed by feds

Excellent article from journalist of the Washington Post reports that U.S. traffic deaths jumped in 2022, hitting 20-year high.

More than 9,500 people were killed in traffic crashes in the first three months of this year, federal transportation officials said Wednesday — a figure that represents the deadliest start to a year on U.S. roads in two decades.

In seven states and the District, officials estimated crash deaths jumped at least 50 percent. Nationwide, deaths were up 7 percent compared with the same period last year.

The figures are preliminary estimates, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) did not release breakdowns of the causes of crashes. Officials say a surge in traffic fatalities that started in 2020 as the pandemic began has continued unabated.

“The overall numbers are still moving in the wrong direction . . . Now is the time for all states to double down on traffic safety.”  ~Steven Cliff, Administrator for NHTSA.

EXPLANATIONS FOR THE SURGE IN TRAFFIC FATALITIES

Experts have struggled to come up with an explanation for the spike in deaths but have pointed to less congestion amid changed driving patterns during the COVID-19 Pandemic, which they say have allowed more dangerous speeds. Officials say there’s also evidence of an uptick in Reckless Driving, DUI,   DUI or Driving Without a Seatbelt.

The early stages of the pandemic saw roads become emptier as people stayed home. However, drivers quickly returned to their vehicles, even as driving was no longer as dominated by morning and evening commutes. NHTSA reported that Americans drove more than 750 billion miles between January and March, an increase of more than 5 percent compared with 2021.

NHTSA reported 7,893 traffic deaths in the first three months of 2020, a period mostly before the onset of the pandemic. In 2021, the figure jumped to 8,935 deaths, then rose to 9,560 this year. The number of deaths this year was the highest in the first three months of a year since 2002. The first quarter is consistently the least deadly on U.S. roads.

SOLUTIONS FROM THE GOVERNMENT

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg earlier this year said the nation would work to eliminate crash deaths, pledging to adopt a “safe system” approach that would look as much at the design of roads and cars as the behavior of individual drivers. The effort is backed by billions in new safety funding from last year’s infrastructure law, including a $5 billion fund that will provide grants aimed at protecting bicyclists and pedestrians.

The infrastructure law included mandates for technology that could address some of the biggest causes of fatalities, such as calling for NHTSA to require breath monitoring devices for alcohol in new cars. Such a system is in testing, but a mandate is likely years away.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with Reckless Driving, DUI, or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.



Alexander F. Ransom

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