The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) accident reports for 2021 overall have not been positive. Not only have the number of accidents and motorist death rates increased, but all accident numbers were up across the board, including in New Jersey where many people in urban areas use public transportation, walk to their destinations or use some form of alternate transportation such as bicycles or scooters.

The problem by the numbers

Just as reflected in the NHTSA report regarding overall traffic fatalities on the highways in 2021, pedestrian fatalities increased at an exponential 10.5% from 2020 levels. This is the largest increase since 2005. Additionally, it is the highest since the agency began tracking such statistics in 1975. These reports do not include personal injury claims, which could be even higher.

Plan of action

While the NHTSA is specifically a statistics bureau for maintaining traffic safety records, the GHSA actually sets forth a plan of action when troubling issues like this are brought to public view. Officials from the GHSA have stated that this number of fatal injuries is unacceptable and that states such as New Jersey should take a proactive stance in improving pedestrian safety in all areas. According to the GHSA’s executive director, the first step should be identifying the root causes of these accidents.

Not included in the numbers was how much traffic has increased from 2020 to 2021 as states lifted restrictions regarding public movement after the health emergency. The GHSA’s suggestion is that communities should focus on pedestrian safety as much as traffic flow when they design new roads and improve intersection safety.

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