NHTSA: Highway fatalities hit 15-year high in first half of 2021

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Updated Nov 2, 2021

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Nov. 1, 2021:

Highway fatalities a 'crisis' as 2021 first-half estimates soar

An estimated 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first half of 2021, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data released this week. That is the highest number of traffic fatalities in the first half of a year since 2006, NHTSA noted.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the number of highway deaths “is a crisis,” and announced a new initiative within DOT to identify ways to reduce fatalities.

“This is a crisis. More than 20,000 people died on U.S. roads in the first six months of 2021, leaving countless loved ones behind. We cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply a part of everyday life in America,” Buttigieg said. “Today we are announcing that we will produce the Department’s first ever National Roadway Safety Strategy to identify action steps for everyone working to save lives on the road. No one will accomplish this alone. It will take all levels of government, industries, advocates, engineers, and communities across the country working together toward the day when family members no longer have to say goodbye to loved ones because of a traffic crash.”

NHTSA’s data also shows that the estimated 11,225 fatalities during the second quarter of 2021 represents the highest Q2 fatalities since 1990.

Preliminary data reported by the Federal Highway Administration show that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the first half of 2021 increased by about 173.1 billion miles, or about a 13% increase as compared to the first half of 2020.

The fatality rate for the first half of 2021 increased to 1.34 fatalities per 100 million VMT, up from the projected rate of 1.28 fatalities per 100 million VMT in the first half of 2020.

DOT’s first ever National Roadway Safety Strategy will bring together work being done across the department and will put forth a comprehensive set of actions to significantly reduce serious injuries and deaths on our nation’s roadways. The strategy will recognize that, while DOT has an important leadership role to play in addressing the crisis, it will take concerted and coordinated effort across all levels of government, the private sector, and communities to reverse the current trend. The strategy will be released in January. 

The strategy will be rooted in the Safe System Approach principles and will identify significant actions the department will take to help ensure: Safer People, Safer Roads, Safer Vehicles, Safer Speeds, and Post-Crash Care. The strategy will focus on new priorities that target the most significant and urgent problems and are expected to have the most substantial impact. 

EPA recognizes 72 companies for environmental performance

Seventy-two trucking companies, logistics providers and freight shippers were honored recently by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their efforts in environmental and energy efficiency. The companies were recipients of the EPA's SmartWay Partner awards.    

The awards were announced during a virtual ceremony hosted by EPA with its SmartWay Partners, affiliates, key stakeholders, and media in attendance. 

According to the EPA, the award recipients represent the top performing, environmentally responsible SmartWay Partners who move more goods, more miles, with lower emissions and less energy. Today’s awardees is a diverse group with about one-third first-time awardees, about one-third which have received the award at least five times, and four awardees in multiple categories. The awardees are also geographically diverse with awardees from each of EPA’s ten Regions, and six from Canada.

The full list of winners can be found here.