According to a recent report appearing on the NBC News website, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report on Wednesday that indicated U.S. traffic fatalities had reached a 20-year high.
According to the federal agency’s report, the death toll had reached more than 9,500 for the first three months of 2022. This is the highest number of traffic fatalities in the first quarter since 2002.
This latest figure also indicates an approximately 7% increase over the 8,935 fatalities reported for the first quarter of 2021.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement that the number of deaths indicated a “crisis on America’s roadways that we must address together.”
In January of this year, Secretary Buttigieg announced the National Roadway Safety Strategy, which would include measures to help reduce fatal motor vehicle crashes. The plan focuses on public awareness, making roads safer, manufacturing vehicles with increased safety features, and post-crash care for those involved in traffic accidents.
While some safety agency experts across the country believe that the increase can be directly linked to the isolation many Americans felt because of the Covid-19 pandemic, several factors are involved, including motorists driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Karl Minges, interim dean at the University of New Haven’s School of Health Sciences, said, “While there is no one causative factor, the reckless behavior is likely the confluence of increased drug and alcohol use, lack of safety constraints, and greater opportunities for speeding and reckless driving.”