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Protect Yourself and Loved Ones by Addressing Roadway Risks

Carlos Rosario, a Florida highway patrolman, is a survivor of a roadway crash. While on-the-job, he was on the shoulder of the highway when he was hit by a distracted driver. The driver hit Carlos and sent him flying, hitting the back of the cruiser and landing for his fellow state troopers to find.

Despite life-threatening injuries, Carlos went on to recover fully and returned to work in less than two years after his accident.

“I look around and everyone is on their phone. This is really serious, and I am on fire to educate people to let them know to put it down,” said Rosario. “Don’t use your phone while you are driving!”

The National Safety Council estimates 46,020 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2021, an 9% increase over 2020. Our roadways are more dangerous then they've been in 16 years and continue to pose some of the biggest risks we face each day, whether we are driving, riding or simply walking across the street.

This increase is a deadly trend that started during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and negates more than 15 years of progress in preventing death on U.S. roads. NSC calls on all road users to follow safe driving tips to ensure you get where you want to go as safely as possible.

Following are 11 tips for travel to destinations near and far:

1. Prepare before you go: Before hitting the road, make sure your car is safe for driving. Vehicle owners should check the oil, put air in the tires, and check for and repair open recalls. Visit ChecktoProtect.org to see if your vehicle has an open recall, and get it repaired for free.

2. Drive distraction-free: Carlos was lucky. Thousands have died in crashes involving cell phone use. Put your phones away and #JustDrive.

3. Slow down: Speeding is a factor in more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities. Drive the speed limit and do not exceed it. Be sure to pay attention to those walking and biking in order to keep all road users safe.

4. Designate a sober driver or arrange alternate transportation: Alcohol is only one cause of impaired driving. Drugs, including opioids, marijuana and some over-the-counter medicines, can cause drowsiness, alter visual functions and affect mental judgement and motor skills. 

5. Avoid fatigued driving: Getting behind the wheel while fatigued can be deadly. Ensure you are well-rested before you get on the road.

6. Buckle up: Seat belts are estimated to have saved 374,276 lives. Every occupant should buckle up appropriately; teens have the lowest rates of seat belt use among all age groups. 

7. Protect vulnerable passengers: Child safety seats significantly reduce the risk of infant and toddler deaths. Make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions before installing a car seat. If you need help, visit the National Child Passenger Safety Board at cpsboard.org to find a certified technician near you.

8. Look before you lock: Last year, 25 children died in hot cars. With temperatures rising across the country and the special occasion breaking routine, make it a priority to ensure you don’t leave the car without your child passengers. The temperature in your vehicle can increase up to 19 degrees Fahrenheit in the first 10 minutes after parking and turning off the engine. Visit nsc.org/HotCars to learn more.

9. Understand your vehicle’s on-board safety systems: Hundreds of millions of cars on the roads have safety technologies – new and old – that help reduce the risk of crashes and deaths. But even the most advanced safety feature cannot replace a safe, focused driver in the car. Visit MyCarDoesWhat.org to learn more.

10. Take an alternate path: For shorter trips, consider leaving the car at home and finding a safe biking or walking route to get when you’re headed.

11. Watch for all road users: Bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians and other road users may be more common this holiday weekend. Respect all road users and give everyone around you space to be safe.

Review supplemental information about the preliminary estimates and additional motor vehicle data and research at injuryfacts.nsc.org.

Resources to Address Roadway Risks

Addressing what causes crashes, as well as the roles vehicles, drivers, road systems and technology play in creating safer roads, is how we will eliminate preventable roadway deaths. The following NSC resources and programs can help drivers, employers and all road users stay safe with trainings, free materials and offerings designed to reduce common roadway risks.

  • Road to Zero: Join the Coalition working to end roadway deaths by 2050.
  • DriveitHOME: Get free resources that help parents and caregivers keep their teen drivers safe.
  • MyCarDoesWhat: Learn all about your vehicle's latest safety features.
  • Check to Protect: Check the recall status of your vehicle and have open recalls fixed immediately.
  • Child Passenger Safety: Free materials to help keep our youngest passengers safe.
  • Our Driving Concern: Posters, safety talks and more free resources for your workplace transportation safety program.

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