NHTSA Highway Fatality Statistics – Still on the Rise

Posted by William K. Thayer | May 24, 2022 | 0 Comments

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.

About the Author

William K. Thayer

Bill Thayer is one of the founding partners of the Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards law firm. Bill is licensed in both Oregon and Washington, and actively practiced law from 1980 to 2021. He is now "of counsel" with Schauermann Thayer and serves as an arbitrator when appointed by the courts or litigants. During his more than 40 years of active law practice, Bill advised and represented clients in personal injury and wrongful death claims and litigation, including automobile collision, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian injury and death cases, dog bite cases, construction site injury claims, and a myriad of other types of injury and death claims. While many claims were settled through negotiation or mediation, Mr. Thayer litigated, arbitrated and/or tried to verdict many cases for his clients. He continues to occasionally be appointed by courts and other lawyers to serve as an arbitrator of tort claims. Bill enjoys writing as one of his varied recreational interests when he is not working.


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