(WGHP) — State Highway safety leaders see a troubling trend in the U.S. as traffic crash deaths soar to an alarming number.

Director of North Carolina Governor’s Highway safety program Mark Ezell said almost 43,000 people were killed on roadways nationally last year.

“We have got to approach this as a public health crisis just like we approached COVID, and that’s going to take all hand on deck approach,” Ezell said.

Ezell said as people started to head back to work and school post-pandemic, the fatalities started to occur more often.

“We need to have safe roads. We need to make sure we have safe cars. We need to have safe speeds, [and we need to have] in the event someone does get into a crash, really quality EMS car,” Ezell said.

Ezell said the state is looking to fund “Vision Zero Community,” where they will look and address safety problems locally like road work issues, speed bumps, dangerous intersections and the design of some roadways.

Data showed in 2021 that the City of Greensboro reported 9,312 traffic crashes with 57 fatalities. In Winston Salem, 9,261 crashes were reported with 29 fatalities. And in High Point, 2,150 crashes were reported, 10 of them deadly.

Ezell said speeding on roadways, driving impaired and people not wearing seatbelts are factors in fatal crashes.

Ezell said the spike in dangerous driving behavior is not all the driver’s fault. He is calling all local municipalities to do their part in reducing fatal traffic crashes in each city in N.C.

“Include driver education and enforcement efforts, but along with quality design efforts that put safety at the forefront,” Ezell said.