Highway fatalities in the United States increased last year 5.3 percent from the previous year, reversing several years of annual declines. A total of 1,713 more people were killed in traffic crashes in 2012 than in 2011 with a total of 34,080 lives lost, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The fatality rate, which is the number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, also rose - from 1.10 to 1.16. While total vehicle miles traveled in 2012 increased by 9.1 billion (a .3 percent increase), fatalities increased at a much greater rate of 5.3 percent.
“This news reinforces the fact that we need to do more, not less, to ensure our roads are as safe as possible,” says Greg Cohen, executive director of the Roadway Safety Foundation. “Strong federal investment in roadway safety infrastructure and engineering safety countermeasures is critically needed if our country wants to truly move the needle and tackle the alarming toll that traffic deaths take on our society.”
Recently, Congress passed a two year highway bill that creates performance objectives for reducing highway fatalities and injuries and gives the States needed funding increases in 2013 and 2014 to get America back on track toward reducing deaths and injuries on our roadways.
Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) is the first multi-year highway authorization enacted since 2005. In addition to doubling funding for roadway safety infrastructure improvements as part of the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) to $2.4 billion per year, MAP-21 provides a performance-based management program that emphasizes a data-driven, strategic approach to improving highway safety on all public roads that is based on national safety goals.
“MAP-21 represents a milestone for highway safety,” says Cohen. “The future of highway safety planning now involves all partners at the table working together to identify key safety problems, establish their relative severity, and adopt strategic and performance-based goals to maximize safety. These new performance measures that are being adopted at all levels of government will promote effective investments, based on scientific data, and aid states greatly in reducing future traffic crashes and saving lives.”