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Our American States

podcastTraffic fatalities have been on a disturbing upward trend for a couple of years, largely coinciding with the pandemic. In 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. That was the largest number of fatalities since 2005 and the largest year-over-year percentage increase since NHTSA instituted its present system for recording fatalities in 1975.

Ron Thaniel, the director of Governmental and External Affairs for NHTSA, is the guest on this podcast. He talked about what NHTSA is doing to combat this surge of traffic fatalities, including working with states and legislatures, which are responsible for traffic laws. In 2020, legislatures saw the introduction of more than 1,400 bills related to traffic safety.

Thaniel also said human behavior— impaired driving, speeding, not wearing a seatbelt—was the greatest factor in the increased number of fatalities in recent years. Thaniel also talked about efforts to protect vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and bicyclists. Overall, he said, states will see increased spending from NHTSA with money for traffic safety included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Ron Thaniel, NHTSA





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