A worldwide pandemic resulting in stay-at-home orders saw traffic jams paused, only to be replaced by street racing within cities and reckless driving on major highways and interstates due to the lack of traffic congestion. The spike started in 2020, the height of the worldwide health crisis. Continuing throughout the following year saw speeding and drunk/distracted driving, and minimal, if any, seatbelt use.
The first nine months of last year revealed positive and negative road travel statistics. The number of traffic deaths declined during that period. However, fatalities involving pedestrians and cyclists rose.
Good news/bad news scenarios
A recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that nearly 32,000 people were killed in collisions, a slight decrease from the same period in 2021. Deaths decreasing in the third quarter represents the second straight quarterly decline following seven quarters of year-by-year increases in fatalities.
The NHSTA also revealed fewer people are driving during the pandemic’s height. Preliminary data shows a 1.6 percent increase in miles traveled throughout the first nine months of 2022. Fatalities fell to 1.3 per 100 miles traveled, slightly lower than last year’s 1.32.
Conversely, cyclist fatalities rose eight percent from 2021, motorcycle deaths increased by five percent, and pedestrian casualties grew by two percent. Rural interstate fatalities jumped 12 percent, with collisions involving at least one large truck growing by 10 percent.
Some safety statistics are encouraging
Urban collector and local roads decreased by 10 percent, with a promising drop of 10 percent involving children under 16. Crashes involving speeders fell two percent. Collisions involving those choosing to wear seatbelts dropped seven percent.
Close to 43,000 people losing their lives on U.S roads in 2021 represented the highest number of deaths when they resumed road travel. The startling statistic represents a 10.5 percent increase, the largest since the NHTSA started collecting fatality data in 1975.
Regardless of trends, reckless driving is a persistent problem that results in serious injuries and deaths. If you or a loved one is injured in a motor vehicle accident, talking to an experienced personal injury attorney is an important first step.