Risky Driving Behaviors Persist Leading to Increase in US Road Deaths
U.S. road deaths have increased at a record pace during the pandemic, apparently as a result of a rise in risking driving behaviors. According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the first nine months of 2021, U.S. traffic deaths rose to 31,720; matching the pace of more risky driving behaviors that began during the initial shutdowns. This figure represents a 12 percent increase over the same period in 2020 and a 33 percent increase over the last decade. It is the highest percentage increase over a nine-month period since the Transportation Department began recording fatal crash data in 1975 and the highest nine-month figure recorded since 2006.
Traffic deaths began to increase in 2019. The NHTSA continues to blame reckless driving behaviors for the increase in traffic fatalities we have endured during the pandemic. (Before 2019, the number of fatalities had fallen for three straight years). Thirty-eight states contributed to the increase in traffic fatalities, while numbers declined in 10 states and the District of Columbia; numbers in two states were flat.
Commitment to reduce US road deaths
The Federal government says it is committed to providing funding for states to improve road design and build dedicated bike and bus lanes, better lighting, and crosswalks that will make roads safer for everyone.
The NHTSA is planning to implement a rule that will require automatic emergency braking in all new passenger vehicles, and set new standards on crash-avoidance features such as lane-keeping assistance. Auto safety advocates have been urging the NHTSA to implement safety rules ordered by Congress, such as rear seat belt reminders.
The idea is that humans will always take chances while driving but a combination of the right safety measures can help keep people safe.
Risky driving behaviors that led to increased accident fatalities
Behavioral research during the pandemic shows that speeding and traveling without a seat belt have been higher.
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.
Other risky driving behaviors could also be contributing to the increased fatality rate:
According to data from CDC.gov, in the United States alone, one person tragically dies every 50 minutes in a drunk driving incident. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 43.6 percent of drivers who were fatally injured in 2016 tested positive for drugs and over half of those drivers had two or more drugs present in their system. Impaired driving arrests increased in some states during 2020, despite a sharp drop in traffic stops during Covid-19.
According to cdc.gov, in 2018, over 2,800 people in the U.S. were killed and an estimated 400,000 were injured in accidents that involved a distracted driver. The likelihood of being in a car accident increases with each distraction: you are three times more likely to crash with three passengers in the car, 12 times more likely when you reach for your phone to check a text message and 16 times more likely when you respond to the text. Experts believe that distracted driving was up in 2020, a very dangerous driving behavior that most certainly leads to increased fatalities.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
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!