Data released by the federal government shows that traffic fatalities continued in their upward trend during the first two-thirds of 2021, apparently due to the spate of reckless driving that came with the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a report by the Associated Press, there were 31,720 car crash-related deaths in the first nine months of last year, from January to September, about “12% higher than the same period in 2020.”
Not only is that figure “the highest nine-month figure since 2006,” according to the Associate Press, but it also represents “highest percentage increase over a nine-month period” since 1975, when the Department of Transportation started collecting car crash statistics. Data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reportedly revealed spikes in traffic fatalities in 38 states, with some of the highest increases in Idaho, Nevada, and Texas. Car crash deaths reportedly fell in 10 states as well as the capital.
In a statement last week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said: “People make mistakes, but human mistakes don’t always have to be lethal. In a well-designed system, safety measures make sure that human fallibility does not lead to human fatalities… That’s what we will be doing for America’s roads with the National Roadway Safety Strategy and the safe system approach that it embraces.
Buttigieg promised to spearhead a new effort to reduce car crash fatalities, in part by providing federal guidance and billions of dollars in funding “to spur states and localities to lower speed limits and embrace safer road design such as dedicated bike and bus lanes, better lighting and crosswalks.” The NHTSA, which falls under his agency, will also work to establish various safety rules and guidance, such as automatic emergency braking requirements and new standards for “crash-avoidance features such as lane-keeping assistance.”
More information about the rise in car crash deaths in 2021, and the steps federal authorities are taking to make the roads safer, is available via the Associated Press.