Traffic fatalities are on the rise (again) in 2021

More people than ever are working from home and limiting their travel, so the roads are less congested than they were just a few years ago — yet traffic fatalities have risen sharply.

According to early estimates by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated 8,730 people have died in roadway collisions in the first three months of this year alone — which is about 10.5% more than in the first quarter of 2020.

What’s causing the rise in fatal wrecks?

Essentially, the data suggests that the same factors that were in play in 2020 (which also saw increasing fatalities compared to the number of miles motorists drove and the number of actual accidents) are still reshaping the ways people drive.

There may be fewer vehicles on the road, but that seems to have encouraged some of the drivers who are left to take bigger chances and be more irresponsible with their driving habits than before. There are drivers out there who seem to take the wide-open road as an invitation to:

  • Speed faster than ever
  • Ignore safety measures, like seat belts
  • Drive under the influence of drugs 
  • Engage in distracted driving behaviors
  • Drive while intoxicated

The only good news that stands out among the latest NHTSA data is that truck-related wrecks actually went down in 2020. The federal agency hasn’t yet calculated the figures for 2021. That indicates that the big-rig operators, at least, are being prudent about their responsibilities to others.

A collision with a truck or another vehicle can happen to anybody. After all, no matter how careful you are, there’s no telling who else is out there sharing the road with you — and they may be less safety-minded. If you are seriously injured in a wreck with a commercial vehicle, find out more about your legal options.