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New report calls rise in traffic deaths a 'public health epidemic'

Infrastructure Traffic Safety
Posted at 5:21 PM, Jan 18, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report on the safety of the country's roads is out and it's not great.

It shows that approximately 100 people are killed and over 7,500 more are injured on American roadways every day. That's an increase from previous years.

The study shows that there was a 20% increase in traffic deaths in the first six months of 2021. That's the largest increase ever since the federal government started tracking, according to Advocates for Highways and Auto Safety, which released the data.

Advocates for Highways and Auto Safetyuse a green, yellow and red system to rank states. Green states are improving, yellow states still need improvement and red states are classified as the worst for safety.

Safety advocates rank the states based on causalities and how many new safety laws have passed, such as those that restrict texting and driving, encourage seat belt usage and limit when someone can learn to drive.

The latest report shows few green. Most of the country is yellow.

Montana, Arizona, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, Nebraska and Virginia are in red.

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Most traffic safety laws in the country are typically passed at the local and state level but when the new infrastructure law passed last
year, Congress gave new powers to the secretary of transportation to implement robust safety standards.

For instance, the law gives Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg the authority to issue new rules to automakers in the coming years regarding crash avoiding technologies, like automatic braking.

Safety advocates say Buttigieg should move quickly to enact the rules.

Currently, the technology is available in vehicles but it often does not come standard and is a costly upgrade.

"This needs to be done as quickly as possible," said Cathy Chase who is with Advocates for Highways and Auto Safety.

Additionally, safety experts want the federal government to get more aggressive in requiring seat belt reminders in the back seat due to the increase in demand for rideshare services like Uber and Lyft.