Some 42,915 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in 2021 — a 10.5% increase over the 38,824 fatalities in 2020, according to a new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
That translates into the highest number of traffic fatalities in 16 years and the largest percentage increase in NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s history.
Experts are reacting to the latest figures, noting that we are moving backward when it comes to road safety. There’s been an uptick in dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving, and impaired driving during the pandemic. In addition, many roads are designed for speed instead of safety, say experts.
These factors combined have virtually wiped out a decade and a half of progress in reducing traffic crashes, injuries, and deaths.
NHTSA’s report highlights concerning increases in several types of roadway deaths. For example, fatalities in multi-vehicle crashes and fatalities on urban roads are both up 16%. Deaths in crashes involving at least one large truck rose 13%. And, daytime fatalities increased 11%.
The report also notes that vulnerable road users are suffering more fatalities with motorcyclist and bicyclist deaths up 9% and 5%, respectively. And, pedestrian deaths rose an alarming 13%. Also noteworthy, deaths in speeding-related crashes increased by 5% as did those in police-reported, alcohol-involvement crashes.