According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the first half of 2021 saw a massive increase in traffic fatalities during the same period of 2020. The total of traffic deaths during that time in 2021 exceeded 20,000, which was an 18.4% increase compared to last year.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic could tie into this sharp increase, though. Last year, fewer drivers were on the road during lockdowns because random trips and errands became less and less frequent. Now that most of the population is at least partially vaccinated and businesses are operating closer to normal, drivers are heading out in larger numbers again. The more people there are on the road, though, the higher the inherent risk of a car accident.
This theory lines up with DOT data on the total number of vehicle miles traveled by Americans. In 2021, drivers traveled 13% more miles than they did in 2020.
Leading Causes of Traffic Fatalities in 2021
During the pandemic, many drivers began to break the speed limit because the streets were emptier. Now that lanes are filling up, the same drivers are not changing their bad, dangerous, and illegal habits. The DOT noted that speeding was a leading cause of traffic fatalities for the first half of 2021, with the number of speeding drivers not dropping below pre-pandemic levels.
Incorrect seatbelt use has also contributed to numerous traffic fatalities this year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), part of the DOT, found an increase in the number of crashes involving drivers who were not wearing a seatbelt, or who did not have it fastened correctly.
Lastly, intoxication and impairment behind the wheel continue to be serious issues. One NHTSA study determined that opioid impairment among drivers increased by nearly 100% since the start of the pandemic, and marijuana impairment rose by 50%.
In a Crash? Get Legal Help
As motorists continue to fill the streets more and more but also continue to practice negligent driving habits, you need to be careful when you drive. You should be familiar with trustworthy personal injury law firms in your area, and keep their number saved in your phone. After a wreck, give them a call for legal assistance.
Drivers in Waco and Austin, Texas, can rely on the Law Offices of Vic Feazell, P.C. for all the legal counsel they need. If you want our help after a car accident, then please dial (254) 938-6885 and ask for a FREE consultation.