Increase in Road Deaths Demands More Federal Action

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News Releases

March 2, 2022

CONTACT: Adam Snider, 202-580-7930
                   202-365-8971 (after hours)

Statement by Pam Shadel Fischer, Senior Director of External Engagement, Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 38,824 people were killed on U.S. roadways in 2020, the highest number of annual fatalities since 2007. In addition, previous NHTSA analysis suggests that the number of 2021 roadway deaths is on track to exceed 40,000.

This sudden uptick of lives lost in preventable crashes is caused by a combination of factors. The safety of all road users must be the top priority when it comes to roadway design. We continue to face an ongoing safety crisis threatening people walking, biking, scooting and rolling. Drivers are still engaging in risky behaviors that put all road users at risk. NHTSA reports that in 45% of fatal crashes, the drivers of passenger vehicles were either speeding, impaired by alcohol or not wearing a seat belt. The unique conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic introduced other exacerbating factors.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has established a national framework for action in its new National Roadway Safety Strategy based on the Safe System approach. However, more action is clearly needed on the federal, state and local levels.

This alarming new report illustrates the urgency for Congress to finalize the FFY 2022 budget to fully fund the first year of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and provide direly needed resources to states and communities for roadway safety. GHSA also calls on U.S. DOT and NHTSA to further accelerate the implementation of the safety provisions of the IIJA, including a lengthy set of pending safety rulemakings and guidance.

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About GHSA

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Visit for more information or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.