Traffic Deaths Soar To Record Highs (Pedestrian, Bicycle, Motorcycle Fatalities Spike As Well)
More people died on our country’s roadways last year than any year since 2005, according to recently released federal crash statistics. The number of people killed on U.S. roads last year — 42,915 — was also 10% higher than the year before, and the largest annual percentage increase since 1975 when such tracking began.
These grim statistics were unveiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Governors Highway Safety Association. Among its other findings:
- Fatal multivehicle pileups and crashes on urban roads were up 16%.
- Fatalities among senior citizens (ages 65 and over) jumped 14%.
- Deaths involving at least one large truck soared 13%, as did pedestrian fatalities. An estimated 7,485 pedestrians were killed in 2021, a 40-year high.
- Deaths of bicyclists were up 5%, as were fatal crashes involving speeding and alcohol.
- Motorcyclist fatalities were up 9%.
- Deaths among those who were not wearing seat belts increased by 17%.
Forty-four states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had increases in traffic deaths in 2021 compared to the previous year, led by Texas, California and Florida.
The main reasons for the spike: Impaired driving, distracted driving, increased speeding, larger vehicles on the road, and crumbling infrastructure all contributed. Data reported also shows that vehicle miles traveled in 2021 increased by about 325 billion miles, or about 11.2%, compared with 2020. But despite the additional miles traveled, the fatality rate based on miles driven remained about the same from 2020 — 1.33 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, compared with 1.34 fatalities in 2020.
“This seems to be a national crisis of fatalities and serious injuries on our streets, and it’s imperative we tackle this issue together,” said Matt Clark, senior partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Clark. “We all need to drive more careful and our government officials need to address our roadways to make them safer for us all. Our lives literally depend on it.”
The good news: A federal infrastructure bill opens the door to a safety overhaul, and is designed to help local governments track and address dangerous road trends. The program, which will provide $1 billion in grants, emphasizes safety projects to protect pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users, in addition to car and truck drivers. The program is part of a broader federal roadway safety strategy, known as a Safe System Approach, that seeks to slow drivers and better account for the inevitability of human mistakes on the road. Examples include separating people traveling at different speeds, providing dedicated times for different users to move through a space and alerting road users to hazards.
Chain | Cohn | Clark reminds drivers to please slow down, never drive while under the influence, and always wear seat belts. And if you are involved in a car accident, follow these three steps:
1) Obtain the name, address, insurance information, vehicle identification number (VIN) and driver’s license number of any and all persons involved in the accident, as well as the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.
2) Make sure that a report is filed with the police, sheriff, or highway patrol, but do not talk to anyone else, especially insurance adjusters, about the accident or sign anything without first consulting an attorney.
3) Seek medical attention immediately and explain to your physician or surgeon all of the symptoms and complaints you have been feeling since the accident occurred.
If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.