USDOT Releases New Data Showing That Road Fatalities Spiked in First Half of 2021

January 24, 2022

USDOT Releases New Data Showing That Road Fatalities Spiked in First Half of 2021

A recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that the first half of 2021 experienced one of the largest increases in traffic fatalities in the history of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. 

New Data Shows One of the Largest Ever Increases in Traffic Fatalities

The report found that, according to FARS data, an estimated 20,160 people were killed across the U.S. in motor vehicle accidents in the first half of 2021. This number represented an 18.4 percent increase over fatality rates during the first half of 2020. This increase is the largest increase for any six-month period, since at least 2006. 

According to the report, vehicle miles traveled in the first half of 2021 also increased by about 13 percent compared to the first half of 2020. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled increased to 1.34 for the first half of 2021, compared to the estimated rate of 1.28 for the first half of 2020.

What’s Behind the Rise in Fatalities?

The NHTSA also issued a report documenting behavioral findings of drivers from March 2020, the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, through June 2021. This report found that incidents of failure to use seatbelts and speeding were higher than the rates of such incidents prior to the pandemic. 

The shutdown and stay-at-home orders issued at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic had the effect of practically emptying roads across the country. As a result, drivers who were on the road during the early months of the pandemic took advantage of open roads by driving faster than posted speed limits. However, as the months progressed and people started to get back on the road, many drivers who had become accustomed to speeding during the spring of 2020 failed to adjust their habits. As a result, motor vehicle accidents that occurred in the latter half of 2020 through the first half of 2021 had higher risks of fatalities due to the higher speeds involved in collisions. 

Efforts to Reduce Road Fatalities

In response to the NHTSA’s report, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that the Department of Transportation would be producing a National Roadway Safety Strategy, which will provide action steps for government, industry, and drivers to take to reduce the risks of fatal motor vehicle accidents

In addition to this new effort from USDOT, the Federal Highway Administration also announced that it was placing additional emphasis on two existing highway safety programs. The first program, the Focused Approach to Safety Program, will provide the 15 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (which account for about half of all motor vehicle accident fatalities) with technical assistance to help mitigate the risks of the most common types of fatal accidents, including roadway departures, intersection accidents, and pedestrian/bicycle accidents. 

Under the second program, the Proven Safety Countermeasures program, the FHWA is issuing nine new road design elements that state and local governments can install, including crosswalk visibility enhancements, bike lanes, improved lighting, variable speed limits, and speed safety cameras. 

Contact a Pittsburgh Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Motor Vehicle Accident Case in Pennsylvania

Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a motor vehicle accident in Pennsylvania? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Goodrich & Geist, P.C. represent clients injured because of motor vehicle accidents in Pittsburgh and the surrounding Western PA counties. Call (412) 766-1455 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 3634 California Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Home visits can be arranged in certain situations. 

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