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June 7, 2021

Please, Always Remember To Wear Your Seatbelt

Here’s another friendly reminder: always wear your seatbelts when in a vehicle. This can’t be stressed further as U.S. traffic deaths soared, hitting the highest yearly total since 2007. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA, this can be attributed to more Americans “engaging in unsafe behavior.”

While Americans drove less in 2020 due to the pandemic, NHTSA’s early estimates show that an estimated 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes—the largest projected number of fatalities since 2007. This represents an increase of about 7.2 percent as compared to the 36,096 fatalities reported in 2019. Broken down, traffic fatalities are as follows:
  • Passenger vehicle occupants (23,395, up 5 percent)
  • Pedestrians (6,205, no change from 2019)
  • Motorcyclists (5,015, up 9 percent)
  • Pedalcyclists (people on bikes) (846, up 5 percent)
Preliminary data shows that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2020 decreased by about 430.2 billion miles (692.3 billion kilometers), or a 13.2-percent decrease. However, the fatality rate for 2020 was 1.37 fatalities per 100 million VMT, up from 1.11 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2019. NHTSA’s analysis shows that the main behaviors that drove this increase include:
  • Occupant ejection (+20 percent)
  • Unrestrained occupants of passenger vehicles (+15 percent)
  • In speeding-related crashes (+11 percent)
  • Nighttime crashes (+11 percent)
  • Crashes during weekends (+9 percent)
  • Rollover crashes (+9 percent)
  • In single-vehicle crashes (+ 9 percent)
  • In police-reported alcohol involvement crashes (+9 percent)
There are a few categories that are projected to have decreases in fatalities in 2020. Fatalities in crashes involving a large truck (commercial or non-commercial use) are projected to decline marginally (down 2 percent). Fatalities among older persons (65+ years of age) are projected to decline by about 9 percent.

Some experts said that as U.S. roads became less crowded, some motorists engaged in more unsafe behavior, including those who perceived police were less likely to issue tickets because of COVID-19. Data suggests a higher number of serious crashes last year involved drug or alcohol use than previously.

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