Traffic Fatalities Predicted to Reach 20-Year High in 2022
Preliminary data from the NHTSA estimates that 9,560 people were fatally injured in car accidents in the first quarter of 2022. A 7% increase from 2021, traffic fatalities for the first quarter of the year were the highest they’ve been since 2002—two decades ago. Unfortunately, experts estimate that at this rate, the nation will break records by the end of the year.
A statement recently released by the NHTSA showed that in 2021, traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high, with a reported 42,915 people suffering fatal injuries in car accidents across the nation last year. This is a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 road fatalities that occurred on American roads in 2020.
The largest year-over-year increases were in fatalities from multi-vehicle crashes and fatalities from urban roadway accidents, each of which spiked 16% from 2020 to 2021. The nation also reported a 14% increase in traffic fatalities of people 65 and older, a 13% in pedestrian fatalities, and a 13% increase in fatal truck crashes.
Texas Car Accident Death Rates
Texas drivers are no exception. Texas reported 4,489 road fatalities in 2021. This would be the highest number of traffic deaths the state has seen since 1982, at which time airbags had not yet become standard, seatbelts were less likely to be worn, and laws against driving while intoxicated were rarely, if ever, enforced.
Data from Texas’ Crash Report Information System shows that this increase is reflected across major cities. Houston roads, which have been heralded as some of the deadliest in the country long before the pandemic even began, saw a 20% spike in fatal auto collisions this year. Dallas was recently found to have the second-highest traffic fatality rate in the country with more than 14 deaths per 100,000 people, and saw an 10% jump in car accidents from 2020 to 2021. The City of San Antonio reported a 24% increase in traffic fatalities from 2020 to 2021. And 2021 was reportedly the deadliest year for Austin, with the city beating its previous record of 105 fatalities in 2015 before the end of November.
Why are Road Deaths Going Up?
This spike is believed to be in part due to the pandemic. Despite a drop in car accidents, the country saw an uptick in car accident fatalities in 2020. Experts believe that there has been increased recklessness on the roads since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, in part due to open roads that make way for speeding and lax driver’s license procedures for new drivers. This meant that though the number of accidents decreased due to fewer people on the roads, the lack of congestion freed people up to speed, making the accidents that did occur more serious.
Steps to Solve the Problem
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that more than 350,000 people died in car accidents between 2011 and 2020. In a statement, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that the nation’s roadway fatality rate was unacceptable, and that it would take “all levels of government, industries, advocates, engineers and communities across the country working together toward the day when family members no longer have to say good-bye to loved ones because of a traffic crash.” The NHTSA as part of the department of transportation, announced they are taking steps to develop a new nationwide strategy in hopes of reducing roadway fatalities and saving lives.
In January of this year, they released their National Roadway Safety Strategy, a strategy aimed at reducing and preventing road fatalities. A collaborative effort between the NHTSA, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the strategy hopes to combat the nation’s road fatality rate through five key objectives –safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and post-crash care.
Additionally, the NHTSA launched “Speeding Wrecks Lives,” a public education campaign in hopes of changing driver behavior by reminding them of the deadly consequences speeding can have. Roadway deaths caused by speeding drivers increased by 17% from 2019 to 2020. Experts believe that this spike was in part due to the decline of traffic during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite the waning of the pandemic, traffic safety officials fear that drivers are now accustomed to their dangerous driving habits developed during the days of open roads.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact our Houston Car Accident Lawyers today. We have a history of successfully representing injured people and their families, and we will fight for you. Give us a call at 713-224-9000, or fill out our contact form here.
Michael S Callahan is an attorney and founder of The Callahan Law Firm. He focuses his practice on representing individuals and families in personal injury cases involving motor vehicle and truck accidents, workplace accidents and defective products. With over 25 years of experience, he is dedicated to fighting on behalf of people whose lives have been forever altered by the negligence and carelessness of corporations and individuals. Originally trained as a mechanical engineer, Michael has been practicing law and fighting for justice for those who need it most since 1994. He is board-certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and a member of various esteemed legal associations. Outside of work, Michael enjoys spending quality time with his family, outdoor activities, and continually striving to improve as a trial lawyer and human being.