The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its 2020 crash data, revealing the highest number of traffic deaths in over a decade.
Deaths Up, Crashes Down
In all, the NHTSA found that 38,824 people were killed in crashes across the United States, marking the highest number of traffic fatalities since 2007. Deaths increased in categories across the board, even though total crashes and injuries declined during this period.
Police-reported accidents in 2020 were down 22 percent compared to the previous year, and the estimated number of motorists injured decreased by 17 percent. Total vehicle miles traveled also declined by 11 percent in 2020, from 3,261,772 to 2,903,622.
Nevertheless, deadly crashes increased by 6.8 percent, with a fatality rate of 1.34 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled – a 21 percent increase from 2019 and the highest rate since 2007, potentially driving a hike in the number of claims and lawsuits from car accident attorneys.
NHTSA Blames “Risky Behaviors”
The NHTSA blamed “risky behaviors” for the increase in the fatality rate. In 45 percent of fatal crashes, the NHTSA found that the drivers of passenger vehicles were engaged in at least one of the following behaviors: exceeding the speed limit, intoxication, or failing to wear a seatbelt.
The 2020 crash report also examined fatality data in a number of other key categories, finding a significant hike in nearly all of them:
- Fatalities in hit-and-run crashes up by 26 percent.
- Motorcyclist deaths up by 11 percent, the highest number since first data collection in 1975.
- Bicyclist deaths up by 9.2 percent, the highest number since 1987.
- Passenger car occupant fatalities up by 9 percent.
- Deaths in urban areas up by 8.5 percent.
- Pedestrian fatalities up by 3.9 percent, the highest number since 1989.
One outlier was the number of deaths in large-truck crashes, which declined by 1.3 percent in 2020.
A “Crisis” for the United States
Transportation officials said this trend represents a “crisis” for the United States.
“The tragic loss of life of people represented by these numbers confirms that we have a deadly crisis on our nation’s roads,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Dr. Steven Cliff. “While overall traffic crashes and people injured were down in 2020, fatal crashes and fatalities increased. We cannot allow this to become the status quo.”
“The rising fatalities on our roadways are a national crisis; we cannot and must not accept these deaths as inevitable,” added Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “People should leave the house and know they’re going to get to their destination safely, and with the resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, plus the policies in the National Roadway Safety Strategy we launched last month, we will do everything we can to save lives on America’s roads.”
The Department of Transportation released its National Roadway Safety Strategy in January, calling it “a roadmap to address the national crisis in traffic fatalities and serious injuries.”
The strategy adopts a “safe system approach” with multiple layers of protection. These layers include “safer roads, safer people, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and better post-crash care.” The NHTSA claimed that the strategy is complemented by the “unprecedented” road safety funding included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law on November 15, 2021.
Car Accident Attorneys Helping Survivors
When someone dies in a traffic accident, it represents an incomparable loss for the friends and family members left behind. While nothing will bring that loved one back, the survivors and dependents may be eligible to receive financial compensation from the responsible party or parties. To help increase the chances of a successful outcome, consider doing what so many others have done before you and retain the dedicated car accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.
With more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. Our car accident attorneys have the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation of success you need to help get you and your family the justice you deserve.
Contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our dedicated wrongful death attorneys. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.