Traffic deaths nationwide hit a 16-year high last year, with nearly 43,000 Americans losing their lives on the roads, according to first estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Although only a projection, the figures represent the highest number of fatalities since 2005, and the 10.5% annual increase is the largest in the history of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. according to an NHTSA. Press release. Fatalities include pedestrians, cyclists and others who died in road accidents.
“We are facing a crisis on America’s roads that we must solve together,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement, noting that funds from the infrastructure bill signed last November by the President Joe Biden are available to help states and municipalities improve security.
Driving the news: The figures are not surprising, after a preliminary examination report last fall predicted the increase, but it’s still an alarming trend with deaths on the rise in 44 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., according to BNC News.
- CNBC reports that the spike in deaths corresponds to a similar increase in the number of miles driven, not necessarily an increase in the death rate. Estimates put the death rate for 2021 at 1.33 deaths per 100 million kilometers driven. In 2020, the rate is estimated at 1.34 deaths.
- In Utah, increased instances of wrong-way driving, speeding, drivers trying to outrun police in pursuits, and drivers wielding weapons have contributed to making Utah’s roads less safe.
Where road deaths are increasing fastest: Puerto Rico leads the nation with a nearly 40% increase in deaths, followed by Idaho with a 33.6% increase and Minnesota with 26.9%.
- Utah road deaths rose from 276 in 2020 to 332 in 2021, with a 20.3% increase good for the ninth-largest state or territory. Neighboring Nevada and New Mexico also made the top 10, with increases of 21.8% and 20.4%, respectively.
- Maine, Wisconsin, Maryland, Nebraska and Wyoming were the only states to see declines last year, with Wyoming’s 11% drop being the biggest improvement. Rhode Island had the exact same number of deaths — 67 — in 2020 and 2021.
The trend continues: Early reports for 2022 show further increases locally, and New York City saw a 44% increase in traffic fatalities in the first quarter, according to Axios.