Traffic fatalities are a national health crisis.
Itasca, Ill. – The National Safety Council is alarmed and discouraged by data released Thursday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the first six months of 2020. NHTSA preliminary estimates for this year track with estimates NSC has released for the same period. Both data sets illustrate a grim picture, where vehicle miles traveled have dropped precipitously since the pandemic, but the number of deaths has not declined as significantly. While any decrease in the number of fatalities on our roads is welcome, we should be able to show a significant safety benefit from having less traffic. Instead, the data reflect a driving environment that has fewer cars but has become increasingly fatal.
After a sustained period of rising fatalities, it is encouraging to see that in 2019, deaths decreased 2% - also in line with NSC estimates for last year. However, the alarming numbers we are seeing in 2020 threaten to undo these important gains.
October is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and National Pedestrian Safety Month. Both observances should serve to remind our country that traffic fatalities are a national health crisis unto themselves. It is time we started doubling down on proven countermeasures, accelerating technology and cultivating a culture of roadway safety, because we need to get on the Road to Zero deaths. Zero is the only acceptable number.
About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.