A group of Democratic senators recently sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, urging the U.S. Department of Transportation to prioritize roadway safety and reverse the trend of rising motor vehicle fatalities.
In the United States, traffic accidents are one of the top causes of death.
In 2021, 42,915 people died in traffic accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is 10.5 percent higher than the year before and 32 percent higher than a decade ago. During the same timeframe, traffic fatalities fell in other countries.
The rise in the United States has been attributed to behavioral factors. In 2020, 45 percent of passenger vehicles involved in a fatal crash were because of speeding, alcohol-impaired driving, not wearing a seatbelt or a combination of these factors.
The department issued the National Roadway Safety Strategy in January. The document set a goal of zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries, and created the five-pronged Safe System Approach. Lawmakers requested Buttigieg provide an update by June 29 on the steps the department has taken and what remains to ensure target completion dates are met.
Lawmakers expressed concern that the NHTSA has had trouble meeting deadlines in the past.