The year 2020 saw a reduction of cars on the road due to the global pandemic, but also tragically saw a rise in traffic fatalities. Safety officials were hopeful that 2021 would see numbers starting to go down, but sadly, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
New estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are showing that 2021 saw the largest ever six-month jump in car accident fatalities. 2020 saw a staggering 38,680 people that died as a result of a traffic accident, the largest number of fatalities since 2007. And now, 2021 is shaping up to be another record breaking year.
2021 Traffic Accidents So Far
The NHTSA has released its Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Half (January-June) of 2021, and warned that the number of traffic deaths was up 18.4% from 2020. Nationwide, there were more vehicle miles traveled during the first half of 2021, about 13% higher than 2020, or around 173 billion miles.
The current estimate of the fatality rate for the first half of 2021 is 1.34 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, up from 1.28 per 100 million miles traveled in the first half of 2020. And these numbers have continued to trend upwards since the first update from the NHTSA in September.
Why Are Fatal Car Accidents on the Rise?
Although vehicles themselves have continued to become safer, adding new features every year that are designed to prevent accidents, there has still been an increase in overall deaths since 2019. These increases also include a rise in pedestrians killed by motor vehicles, a number which increased by nearly 5% in 2020, a year when fewer vehicles traveled during pandemic lockdowns.
According to traffic experts, the explanation for the fatality spike is likely due to the fact that there were fewer cars on the road during the lockdowns. With less traffic, congestion was eliminated, which made people tend to drive at faster, and more lethal speeds. Many drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2020 didn’t wear seatbelts, and were more likely to be driving while drunk.
How Are Agencies Working To Make Streets Safer?
The rise of fatal car accidents has become one of the main focuses of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The NTSB has released a series of safety recommendations, and called on the NHTSA, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) to all collaborate on standards to protect pedestrians and drivers alike.
The NHTSA released all their data during the second annual National Pedestrian Safety Month Campaign, which focuses on issues that may be responsible for the increases in pedestrian fatalities that the United States has seen over the past few years. The campaign focuses on:
- Embracing new safety technology
- Reducing speeding
- Comprehensive review of roadways, focusing on accommodating pedestrians.
In addition, the NHTSA has issued their 10th edition of Countermeasures That Work, a guide covering 10 areas of concern on the roadways. Specifically the report covers:
- Alcohol and drug impaired driving
- Bicycle safety
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Motorcycle safety
- Older drivers
- Pedestrian safety
- Seat belts and child restraints
- Speeding and speed management
- Young drivers
What Was the Most Common Cause of a Fatal Accident in 2021?
While data on 2021 is still pending, the NHTSA has data available on 2019.
- Drunk driving: Drunk driving claimed the lives of 10,142 in 2019
- Speeding: Was the next most deadly, claiming 9,478 lives
- Distracted driving: Was the third most deadly, claiming 3,142 lives in 2019
These three factors have long been listed as the most dangerous factors in determining whether or not a car accident will be fatal.
When You Need a Car Accident Lawyer in Philadelphia
Tragically, it appears as though vehicle accidents and fatalities are only going to continue to rise throughout the end of the year. If you or your loved one were injured in a car accident, you likely have many questions about how to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit against the at fault driver.
The experienced Philadelphia Car Accident Attorneys at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can help you better understand the particulars of your case with a free consultation. Call us today at 1-866-333-7715 or reach out online via our form.