Wednesday, December 7, 2022
News The Number of Fatalities on US Roads in 2021 has been the...

The Number of Fatalities on US Roads in 2021 has been the Highest in 16 Years

Safety on American roads has taken a hit in 2021, mostly due to the effects of the pandemic.

  • Many drivers went back to work in 2021 after close to a year off the roads

  • Last year saw fatalities surge by 10.5% on American roads

  • Even in 2019, reckless driving behaviors were on the uprise

The NHTSA released its data on the number of fatalities recorded on US roads last year and the news isn’t good.

In 2021, 42,915 people lost their life in a traffic accident on the roads of the United States, which is 10.5% more than in 2020 and the highest number of fatalities since 2005.

With the advancements in automotive safety and the promotion of better driving habits, traffic fatalities had been on a downward trend over the years and for the three years prior to 2019, the number of fatal accidents had decreased steadily.

The recent surge can be explained in part due to the pandemic, according to the NHTSA. Indeed, the massive 10.5% increase in fatalities year over year, the highest recorded by the agency since it began collecting data about fatal accidents in 1975, is exacerbated by the fact that drivers drove much less than normal in 2020.

Due to the lockdowns and the travel restrictions adopted to curb the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020, many Americans begun to work from home and most cancelled their vacation plans. This made the total distance driven by motorists in the country drop significantly for the year.

Since most of these restrictions were lifted in 2021, the total distance travelled by car jumped back up to around 325 billion miles, 11.2% more than in 2020.

This explains the year-over-year increase, but it doesn’t explain why the number of fatalities rose to a level that hadn’t been seen in 16 years. Part of the reason could be that drivers who were rushed back on the road after close to a year of not driving farther than the grocery store might have lost some of their abilities behind the wheel.

In addition, the NHTSA said that it had already observed a rise in reckless driving behaviors in 2019, such as driving under the influence, speeding or not wearing a seatbelt, and that these types of behaviors were fueled by the pandemic.

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