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Startling traffic fatality statistics

By the end of 2021, nearly 43,000 people lost their lives on roads throughout the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The statistic represents the highest number of deaths in 16 years. Factors in the fatalities include speeding, impaired driving, and distracted operation of motor vehicles.

The 10.5 increase from 2020 is also the largest percentage growth since 1975. Non-fatal crashes injured 2.5 million in 2021, close to a 10 percent increase from the previous year.

Alarming numbers

Additional data reveals:

  • Fatal crashes where one driver was distracted grew by 12 percent, ending the year at 3,522
  • Pedestrian deaths increased by 13 percent
  • Cyclists’ deaths grew by two percent
  • Unbelted passengers killed in accidents increased by 8.1 percent
  • Drunk driving deaths rose 14 percent
  • Fatalities caused by speeding grew by nearly eight percent
  • Large trucks – at a weight of more than 10,000 pounds – increased by 17 percent

Continuing cell phone distractions

Distracted driving represents a continuing clear and present danger, with drivers taking their eyes off the road to check their cell phones. Technology is accessible to set a “do not disturb” mode combined with apps and systems in cars that monitor drivers to ensure attention is paid to what is ahead of them.

Some see it as a deadly addiction, even though approximately 90 percent of drivers are aware of the risks, while 80 percent confess to the distractions. Half of the states enacted laws barring hand-held phone use, resulting in reductions in road fatalities, crashes, and even insurance costs.

Return to the roads

Also playing a role is the increase in the sheer number of vehicles on the road following the coronavirus pandemic, where people stayed home. Deaths per 100 million miles traveled grew by 1.37 percent, a growth of 2.2 percent in 2021.

Preliminary data from 2022 covering January through September could bring some good news, with motor vehicle deaths decreasing by 0.2 percent.