Last year, nearly 43,000 people died on American roadways. It is the greatest number of traffic deaths in 16 years.
The increase of 10.5 percent above 2020 figures was the greatest since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began collecting mortality data in 1975. People began to venture out more in 2021 for out-of-state and other road excursions, experts said. The situation was exacerbated by the persistence of risky driving behaviors during the pandemic. It includes speeding and less frequent use of seat belts.
America’s roads, according to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, are in a crisis. State and municipal governments, drivers, and safety advocates have been urged to join the campaign. It is to reverse the rising death rate.
“Our nation has taken a dangerous and deadly step backward in traffic safety and impaired driving,” said MADD National President Alex Otte. Alex called for strong public-private partnerships to combat reckless driving. They are similar to the seat belt and airbag public safety campaigns of the 1990s. “More families and more communities are feeling the crushing magnitude of this crisis on our roads.”
According to preliminary data issued by the agency on Tuesday, 42,915 individuals died in traffic accidents last year, up from 38,824 in 2020. In the fall, the final figures will release.
In 2021, 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico experienced more traffic deaths than the previous year, with Texas, California, and Florida leading the way. Wyoming, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Maine all saw declines. The figures for Rhode Island remained constant.
Last year, Americans traveled nearly 325 billion more miles than they did in 2020, an increase of 11.2 percent.
“All of our lives depend on it”
According to the agency’s estimates, over 118 people perished in traffic accidents in the United States every day last year. The Governors Highway Safety Association is a coalition of state traffic safety officials. They blamed the rise on unsafe behaviors like speeding, driving while intoxicated or distracted, and “roads designed for speed instead of safety.”
The combination, the group said, “has wiped out a decade and a half of progress in reducing traffic crashes, injuries, and deaths.”
In the year 2020, traffic deaths began to rise. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has attributed rises in the pandemic to reckless driving. Thus, citing behavioral studies that show speeding and driving without a seat belt are more common. Before 2020, the number of fatalities had been declining for three years in a row.
Deputy NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff is the Biden administration’s nominee to run the agency. He said the roadway crisis is urgent and preventable. “We will redouble our safety efforts, and we need everyone — state and local governments, safety advocates, automakers, and drivers, to join us,” Cliff said in a statement. “All of our lives depend on it.