The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released its early estimate of traffic fatalities for 2021. It has calculated that 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes last year.
That is a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 fatalities in 2020. Click here for the NHTSA press release.
Unfortunately, not only is the national traffic fatalities statistic going in the wrong direction, but the percentage of increase is also on the rise. The increase from 2019 to 2020, by comparison, was but 7.2%. See, for example, 2020 traffic statistics blog.
With the availability of improved road engineering and auto safety technology, one would assume – and hope – that the incidence of highway fatalities would be going down in this country. So what gives?
Perhaps further analysis of these rising statistics at some point will answer that question. At this point, we can only speculate. The persistent alarming uptick from 2020 to 2021 may in part be a function of traffic in the nation rebounding from the reduced amount of road use that the initial pandemic shutdown brought about. But with it being a 10.2% rise, it does appear to be more than just that.
In any event, it is a sobering and tragic trend. Perhaps the main thing we can all do to keep ourselves and others around us safer is to remember, whenever we are in control of a motor vehicle on public highways, that driving cautiously is not just a good idea, it is actually a matter of life and death.
It brings to mind the quote from the 1980s television show, Hill Street Blues – repeated dutifully by the police Sgt. Phil Esterhaus every day as he discharged his officers out to patrol their respective beats – “Let's be careful out there.”
For assistance or questions related to a motor vehicle collision in Oregon or Washington, feel free to contact our office and speak with an attorney today.