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US Traffic Deaths Still Too High Despite 2023 Decline


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has provided early estimates for traffic fatalities in the United States in the previous year, offering a glimmer of hope despite ongoing concerns. The data suggests a decrease in fatalities, with an estimated 40,990 deaths in motor vehicle crashes in comparison to 42,514 in the previous year, marking a 3.6% decline and potentially saving 1,524 lives. However, this drop occurred alongside an increase in driving, resulting in a slightly reduced fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled.

Although these numbers reflect progress, they still surpass pre-pandemic levels significantly, with a considerable gap compared to 2013 figures. The pandemic notably spiked fatalities, reaching 39,007 deaths in 2020, before peaking at 43,230 in 2021 and gradually declining thereafter.

Certain states experienced notable increases in fatalities, including Rhode Island, Idaho, and Kentucky, with Washington D.C. topping the list with a 40.6% rise in deaths.

In conjunction with the fatality estimates, the NHTSA introduced the “Put the Phone Away or Pay” campaign, targeting distracted driving. Despite common misconceptions, distracted driving remains a significant threat, contributing to thousands of fatalities and injuries annually. The campaign aims to raise awareness and enforce penalties for distracted driving, particularly among drivers aged 18 to 34, who are statistically more susceptible to distraction-related accidents.

NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman emphasized the preventable nature of distractions, urging drivers to prioritize safety on the road. The campaign, supported by law enforcement, seeks to underscore the potentially fatal consequences of distracted driving, emphasizing the importance of remaining focused while behind the wheel.
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