US traffic deaths dip in Q2 but still high as pandemic eases

Sep 18, 2022, 7:04 PM | Updated: Sep 19, 2022, 2:54 pm
FILE - Emergency crews work the scene of a fatal crash in Campbell County, Ky., Jan. 25, 2020. The ...

FILE - Emergency crews work the scene of a fatal crash in Campbell County, Ky., Jan. 25, 2020. The number of people killed on U.S. roadways continued to rise in the first half of 2022, but the government’s highway safety agency says they declined from April through June. Still, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called highway deaths a national crisis. The agency said Monday, Sept. 19, 2022 that early estimates show that 20,175 people died in crashes from January through June, an increase of 0.5% over the same period last year. (Albert Cesare/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP, File)

(Albert Cesare/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP, File)

DETROIT (AP) — The number of people killed on U.S. roadways fell slightly from April through June, the first decline in two years as pandemic-era reckless driving appeared to ease. But the government says the number of deaths remains at a crisis level.

Estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that 20,175 people died in crashes from January through June, a 0.5% increase over the same period last year.

Yet the second-quarter decline ended a string of seven straight quarterly increases that began in the summer of 2020 with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The agency estimated that 10,590 people died this year on roadways from April to June, nearly 5% fewer than the same period a year ago.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said while deaths may be declining, they are still at levels that require urgent action. “These deaths are preventable, not inevitable, and we should act accordingly,” he said in a statement.

NHTSA Acting Administrator Ann Carlson told a group of state safety officials Monday that she hopes the recent decline is the beginning of a downward trend, but that the number of deaths remains unacceptable. “That is not the new normal we want,” she told the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Fatalities began to rise two years ago when roads were largely empty due to stay-at-home orders in many states. With less traffic, speeds increased as did reckless and impaired driving, leading to a record spike in deaths last year. Many people weren’t wearing seat belts, the government said.

Carlson said that because the estimates for this year are early, the agency doesn’t have specifics about why fatalities dropped. Agency estimates are typically close to actual numbers, which won’t be released until later in the year.

There also was a small second-quarter drop in the traffic death rate per 100 million miles driven, from 1.34 in the second quarter of 2021, to 1.27 this year, Carlson said.

Auto safety advocates welcomed the dip but said there is more the Biden administration can be doing to reduce traffic fatalities.

For many months now, crashes have declined even as deaths have surged, suggesting reckless driving that could now be declining as offices reopen and more cars return to the road, said Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety.

“What it may be is that we’re seeing an easing of some of the issues that were caused by the pandemic — speeding, open roads, risky driving issues,” Brooks said. “Traffic is returning to normal, the roads aren’t as empty as they were.”

“The fact is the fatality rate is still very, very high,” he said. “There is a lot that remains to be done.”

Buttigieg earlier this year unveiled a national strategy aimed at reversing the trend of rising deaths, including new federal guidance and billions in grants under President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law over the next two years to spur states and localities to lower speed limits and embrace safer road design. But auto safety groups say the Biden administration has remained slow to act in other areas, such as rulemaking to mandate automatic emergency braking in all passenger vehicles as required under the 2021 infrastructure law.

“I think it’s premature to be hopeful about the slight dip in fatalities especially considering the tremendous loss that we’ve experienced over the last couple years,” said Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

“We do know good safety systems, if implemented, will prevent many crashes,” she said.

Nearly 43,000 people were killed on U.S. roads last year, the highest number in 16 years as Americans returned to the roads. The 10.5% jump over 2020 numbers was the largest percentage increase since NHTSA began its fatality data collection system in 1975.

____

Yen reported from Washington.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A customer waits for service at a Optus phone store in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Oct. 7, ...
Associated Press

Australia mulls tougher cybersecurity laws after data breach

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian government said on Monday it was considering tougher cybersecurity rules for telecommunications companies after Optus, the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier, reported personal data of 9.8 million customers had been breached. Optus said Thursday it had become aware the day before of the cyberattack breaching details of 9.8 million people […]
1 day ago
A Ukrainian serviceman inspects a kindergarten classroom with a sign "Z" on the door that was used ...
Associated Press

Drone attack hits Ukraine; US vows ‘consequences’ over nukes

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — An overnight drone strike near the Ukrainian port of Odesa sparked a massive fire and explosion, the military said Monday, hours after the United States vowed to take decisive action and promised “catastrophic consequences” if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine. The airstrike was the latest in a series of drone […]
1 day ago
Margaryta Tkachenko, 29 years old, feeds her 9-month-old daughter Sophia in the recently retaken to...
Associated Press

Hardship remains for Ukrainian town emerging from occupation

IZIUM, Ukraine (AP) — Rainwater is for showers and dishes. Scavenged wood is for the cooking fires. But almost nothing keeps out the autumn chill in homes without windows. Russian forces controlled Izium for six months before being forced to retreat two weeks ago in a Ukrainian counteroffensive. On one of the last days of […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Pakistan army helicopter crashes in southwest, 6 killed

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani army helicopter crashed during an overnight mission in the country’s southwest, killing all six military personnel who were on board, including both pilots, the military said Monday. The crash took place in the district of Hernai, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. […]
1 day ago
A worker cooks burgers at Zing Burger store in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, Sept. 12, 2022. Richard K...
Associated Press

Lights out, ovens off: Europe preps for winter energy crisis

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — As Europe heads into winter in the throes of an energy crisis, offices are getting chillier. Statues and historic buildings are going dark. Bakers who can’t afford to heat their ovens are talking about giving up, while fruit and vegetable growers face letting greenhouses stand idle. In poorer eastern Europe, people […]
1 day ago
FILE - A woman shows her ballot to journalists prior to voting in a referendum in Luhansk, Luhansk ...
Associated Press

Ukrainians scared by Russia’s preordained referendums

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — After seven weary months of war, many Ukrainians fear more suffering and political repression awaits them as referendums orchestrated by the Kremlin with help from gun-toting police portend Russia’s imminent annexation of four occupied regions. Many residents fled the regions before the referendums got underway, scared about being forced to vote […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
US traffic deaths dip in Q2 but still high as pandemic eases