by Leah Shahum March 4, 2021 in News, Press, Zero Traffic Deaths

Media Advisory: Crash Victims & Safety Advocates Decry Appalling Increase
in Traffic Deaths & Urge Action

Media Contacts: 

Leah Shahum, Vision Zero Network, 
Amy Cohen, Families for Safe Streets,, 646-581-4232 

Crash Victims & Safety Advocates Decry Appalling Increase in Traffic Deaths & Urge Action 

New Report Estimates 2020 Traffic Deaths Hit 13-Year High; Spike in Rate of Roadway Deaths Highest in 96 Years 

March 4, 2021 — Advocates for safe streets responded today to preliminary data released by the National Safety Council (NSC) showing that as many as 42,060 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020. This is an alarming 8% increase over 2019, despite fewer people driving due to pandemic conditions.  

According to the estimates, the rate of U.S. traffic deaths spiked 24% in 2020 over the previous year, despite miles driven decreasing by 13%. This dramatic increase represents the highest year-over-year growth in the rate of traffic deaths since 1924, or 96 years, according to NSC.

Families for Safe Streets, an organization whose members have been injured or lost loved ones in crashes, and Vision Zero Network, a nonprofit supporting communities across the nation in setting and advancing Vision Zero goals of safe mobility for all, expressed alarm in hearing the news and called on elected leaders to act on known solutions in support of street safety. Both groups are leading a campaign, endorsed by more than 1,700 groups and individuals, calling on the Biden Administration to make a national commitment to reach #ZeroTrafficDeaths by 2050.

“As I know all too well, these are not just numbers. These are people: children, parents, grandparents, friends, co-workers,” said Amy Cohen, co-founder of Families for Safe Streets, a support and advocacy group of bereaved parents and family members with chapters in 10 states. “These are lives lost and life-changing injuries suffered in preventable crashes. These are not accidents. My son Sammy’s death was preventable. The untold suffering of the tens of thousands of people killed every year and the millions more who suffer life-altering injuries is preventable.”

“We do not need more ‘thoughts and prayers’ for the 42,060 lives lost last year in preventable traffic crashes,” said Leah Shahum, Director of the Vision Zero Network, a group that helps 45 cities across the U.S. implement policies to eliminate traffic deaths. “We need elected leaders to take action and implement the strategies that are proven to save lives on our streets, sidewalks and bikeways.”

“Strategies that are proven to prevent road deaths include: reducing speed limits, re-designing streets to be safer and calmer, increasing public transit, and requiring safety technology in vehicles, amongst other tools,” Shahum said. “We have the tools to prevent so many tragic deaths and injuries, and we need the political will to use them.”

The U.S. ranks 42nd out of 51 high-income nations for per capita traffic fatalities. 

“We ask President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg to recognize that our approach to street safety is failing. To save lives on our streets, the Administration’s plans to #BuildBackBetter must include prioritizing safety in all infrastructure investments and policy decisions,” said Shahum.

“We urge our national leaders to set and advance the goal of #ZeroTrafficDeaths,” said Cohen. “No more American families should be forced to suffer from these preventable tragedies.”

Sign the #ZeroTrafficDeaths letter to President Biden today!


Find out more about the national #ZeroTrafficDeaths campaign. Learn more about Families for Safe Streets and Vision Zero Network. Read the Vision Zero Network’s recommendations to President Biden & Secretary Buttigieg.

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