Traffic deaths in the US increased 0.5 per cent to 20,175 in the first half of 2022, the highest number killed in the period since 2006, a US official estimate has said.

Incidents of speeding and travelling without wearing seatbelts were higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic, reports said citing the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

US traffic deaths in first half of 2022 hit record high
US traffic deaths in first half of 2022 hit record highIANS

"Traffic deaths appear to be declining for the first time since 2020, but they are still at high levels that call for urgent and sustained action. These deaths are preventable, not inevitable, and we should act accordingly," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. 

Releasing its early estimates of traffic fatalities for the first half of 2022, it said an estimated 20,175 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, an increase of about 0.5% as compared to 20,070 fatalities NHTSA projected for the first half of 2021.

However, NHTSA projects that the second quarter of 2022, from April to June, had the first decline in fatalities after seven consecutive quarters of year-to-year increases in fatalities that began in the third quarter of 2020.

Traffic fatalities increased after pandemic lockdowns ended, as more drivers engaged in risky behavior, US media reports said.

Route 66 marker in California
A Route 66 marker, part of the newly named Mojave Trails National Monument, is shown near Amboy, California. Nearly 2 million acres of scenic California desert have been designated as national monuments under an executive order by then-US President Barack Obama in 2015, roughly doubling the amount of land set aside for protection during his presidency. Picture taken March 17, 2015.REUTERS/Sam Mircovich

Measure to stem accidents

US Department of Transportation said it has begun work on a number of action items including:

  • In May, the Federal Highway Administration issued Complete Streets guidance and is encouraging States to develop complete streets using the formula funding delivered through the President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
  • In March, NHTSA issued a request for comment to proposed significant upgrades to the New Car Assessment Program, in part by proposing to add four more advanced driver assistance system technologies to those NHTSA already recommends. These new technologies would include blind spot detection, blind spot intervention, lane keeping assistance and pedestrian automatic emergency braking. The notice also describes the roadmap of the Agency's plans to update NCAP in phases over the next 10 years, to potentially incorporate consideration of the vehicle's safety features for people walking or biking around the car.
  • In June, NHTSA issued a final rulemaking on rear impact guards for trailers and semitrailers.
  • USDOT issued a notice of funding opportunity for $1 billion for the first year of the brand-new Safe Streets and Roads for All program funded by the President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.