The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued its estimates on road fatalities for 2021. The news is not good, with a projected total of 42,915 deaths on U.S. roads due to fatal crashes. This is a record-breaking 10.5% increase from 38,824 deaths in 2020 and the highest amount since 2005. Unfortunately, Florida joined Texas and California as states with the most significant increases in fatalities – Florida accounted for nearly 1 in 12 road deaths in the U.S. in 2021.
These alarming numbers prompted a quick response from the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), which unveiled the National Roadway Safety Strategy. Program funding will come from President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“We face a crisis on America’s roadways that we must address together,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With our National Roadway Safety Strategy and the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are taking critical steps to help reverse this devastating trend and save lives on our roadways.”
The initial rollout invests $6 billion over the next five years to reduce crashes and fatalities. The measures include:
- Advancing the Complete Streets policies and standards, which helps federal, state and local municipalities design and build safer roads.
- Mandatory updates to the Uniform Traffic Control Devices manual include rules on lane markings, setting speed limits, traffic lights, and other things that help drivers safely navigate the roads.
- Dramatically increase the Highway Safety Improvement Program, enabling states to implement modern data-driven approaches to making roads safer.
The NHTSA also recently launched the Click It or Ticket campaign, targeting vehicle occupants who do not use their seatbelts. It also earmarked $740 million in funding for Section 405 National Priority Safety Program, Section 1906 Racial Profiling Data Collection Grants and the 402 State and Community Grant Program.
Reckless driving is a problem
The government has responded to these numbers, but it’s a fact that reckless driving caused many of these fatalities, including innocent, law-abiding drivers. Even when there are no criminal charges for the driver who caused the deaths, victims and their families can file civil suits to secure damages involving lost wages, medical expenses and related costs.