Traffic Deaths Surge During Pandemic, Despite Fewer Drivers

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News Releases

January 13, 2021

CONTACT: Adam Snider, 202-580-7930
                   Adrian Nicholas, 202-580-7934

Statement by Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director, Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 11,260 people were killed on U.S. roadways in the third quarter of 2020, a 13.1% increase compared to the same period in 2019. Looking at the first nine months of 2020, the data show that 28,190 people died in crashes, a 4.6% increase from the year before. Traffic deaths rose even though there were fewer drivers on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic – a troubling trend as traffic volume returns to normal.

Far too many people are dying on America’s roadways. While millions of families are focused on remaining safe by staying home and wearing masks during the pandemic, this relentless attention to safety needs to extend to the driver’s seat and our nation’s roads as well. We can’t afford to compound the staggering loss of life from COVID-19 with additional preventable deaths caused by unsafe driving behaviors like speeding, driving under the influence or distracted and not wearing a seat belt.

The vaccine for unsafe driving is available to every American right now – slow down, buckle up, stow your phone and never drive impaired. If we don’t inoculate ourselves against these dangerous driving habits, a lasting impact of this pandemic will be even more traffic deaths – an unacceptable outcome.

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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. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit Find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter @GHSAHQ.