2021 Sees Largest Traffic Fatalities in FARS History
In a perfect world, motor vehicle accidents and traffic fatality rates would drop every year. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case and this year we experienced a big jump in traffic fatalities.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Half (January-June) of 2021 in October. Sadly, it shows the largest six-month increase ever recorded in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s (FARS) history. An estimated 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first half of 2021, up a whopping 18.4 percent over that period in 2020. That’s the highest number of projected accident fatalities in that six-month window since 2006.
First Half of 2021 Sees Largest Ever Traffic Fatalities in FARS History
While there was a big drop in miles driven in 2020 because of temporary stay at home orders across the country, the increase in the fatality rate is still notable. Preliminary data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) show that vehicle miles traveled in the first half of 2021 increased by about 173.1 billion miles, or about 13 percent over the same period in 2020. The fatality rate for the first half of 2021 increased to 1.34 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up from the projected rate of 1.28 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the first six months of 2020.
What causes increased traffic fatalities?
When traffic fatalities increase, it is almost certainly tied to changes in driver behavior. Luckily, the NHTSA also released behavioral research findings from March 2020 through June 2021 that gives us some insights into driver behavior during the pandemic.
Two of the main driving behaviors that stand out in the report are higher instances of speeding and driving / traveling without a seatbelt than pre-pandemic levels.
Risky driving behaviors that led to increased traffic fatalities in 2021
According to the WHO, speed is a known key risk factor in traffic accident injuries, as it impacts both the risk of motor vehicle crashes and the severity of the injuries. In fact, excessive and inappropriate speeding are responsible for 30 percent of traffic accident deaths in high income countries like the United States. A study by Arity, a mobility data analytics company, found that speeding at 80 miles an hour or more was up through most of 2020 and that speeding is still up even as driving has returned to more normal levels, especially during morning and afternoon rush hours.
Driving without a seatbelt
According to data from the NHTSA, of the 37,133 people who died in motor vehicle accidents in 2017, 47 percent were not wearing seat belts. By contrast, that same year, it is estimated that seat belts saved 14,955 lives and could have saved an additional 2,549 people if they had been wearing seat belts. Experts believe that less drivers were wearing seat belts in 2020 and that would most certainly have contributed to an increase in collision fatalities.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney for traffic fatalities
If you or a loved one was injured in a collision because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!