Auto-related deaths spike nationally, Utah is no exception

May 17, 2022, 12:56 PM
Photos of the crash that followed the police chase....
The national spike in auto-related deaths has prompted a plea to law makers for action. Photo credit: Martha Harris, KSL NewsRadio.

SALT LAKE CITY– The president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), Cathy Chase, released a statement addressing the national spike in auto-related accidents and deaths. Chase called on the U.S. Department of Transportation, Congress, and state legislatures to act now.

Chase pointed to the number of crash-related fatalities in 2021, calling it a growing public health crisis. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes killed an estimated 42,915 people in the U.S. in 2021. Comparatively, this number was 10.5% in 2020. Furthermore, fatalities involving pedestrians increased by 13% from 2020 to 2021

How has Utah responded to Auto-related deaths

Recently, Utah has reported a number of vehicle-related deaths. One included a pregnant woman in Salt Lake City earlier this month. The uptick in auto-pedestrian fatalities prompted Salt Lake City Mayor Mendenhall to hold a press conference on May 5, 2022. 

“Everyone deserves to walk or bike through our neighborhoods and enjoy our community without fear of becoming injured or killed by a moving vehicle,” Mendenhall said. 

Also, Mendenhall announced a new partnership between the city and the Utah Department of Transportation’s Zero Fatalities education program as well as the implementation of the “Safe Streets Task Force” to target the rise in accidents. 

Aiming for solutions

The Advocates cited reckless driving, including speeding, impairment, and lack of seat belt use as contributing factors to the issue. Chase urged states to enact commonsense laws to save lives.

“Every state has an opportunity to take commonsense steps that will reduce motor vehicle crashes, deaths, and injuries,” Chase said in her statement. 

The statement also calls for a focus on auto technology such as

  • Minimum performance standards for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) 
  • Requiring proven crash avoidance technologies in all new vehicles such as automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning (LDW), and blind-spot detection (BSD) as required in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
  • When appropriate, these performance standards should account for the safety of vulnerable road users, including pedestrians and bicyclists. 
  • U.S. DOT to advance minimum performance standards for impaired driving prevention technology, which is also Congressionally mandated. 
  • Action on numerous safety advances including requirements for adaptive beam headlights, improved hood and bumper standards, changes to the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), and commercial motor vehicle safety upgrades

Utah has had 105 auto-related accidents so far in 2022.

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Auto-related deaths spike nationally, Utah is no exception