NHTSA Says Traffic Fatalities Reached a 16-Year High in 2021

Although a preliminary projection, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates there were roughly 42,915 deaths from motor vehicle accidents in 2021. 

The figure is alarmingly high and is causing federal authorities much concern. As such, various measures are being taken to lower the death toll on the nation’s highways.

Disturbing Numbers

The 40,000 plus fatalities on the roadways are the highest number of traffic deaths on America’s roadways since 2005. What is also disturbing is that in 2020, there were a total of 38,824 fatalities, meaning the figure for 2021 represents a 10.5% increase in traffic deaths — the largest year-over-year increase ever recorded. 

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says the numbers indicate a “… crisis on America’s roadways that we must address together.” He is correct. The 2021 fatality statistics put the average number of Americans lost on the highways each day at about 117. 

Fatalities by the Numbers

According to data compiled by the Federal Highway Administration, vehicles traveled over 300 billion more miles in 2021 than in 2020. That represents approximately an 11% increase in miles traveled. 

Vehicle fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) declined in 2021 to 1.33 from the 2020 figure of 1.34 fatalities per VMT. However, the number of overall vehicle fatalities increased in 2021.

The data is quite helpful because it shows which type of accidents had the highest increase in fatalities. 

  • Multi-vehicle crash fatalities were up 16%
  • Fatalities on urban roads were up 16%
  • Victims of fatalities aged 65 and older were up 14%
  • Fatal pedestrian accidents were up 13%
  • Fatal accidents with one or more large trucks were up 13%
  • Fatalities during the day were up 11%
  • Motorcyclist and bicyclist fatalities were up 9% and 5%, respectively
  • Speed-related fatalities were up 5%
  • Alcohol-related crashes with police documentation were up 5%

The stark increase in road deaths has galvanized federal officials to redouble their road-safety efforts.

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

The recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $550 billion to improve and develop the nation’s infrastructure. It focuses heavily on safety and features programs aimed directly at reducing the number of accidents and fatalities on America’s roadways. 

Safe Streets and Roads for All is one of these programs. It allocates $6 billion in funding to tackle the rising crash and fatality numbers at the local level. One of the main strategies of Safe Streets and Roads is to involve all levels of government — state, federal, and local — for a more comprehensive approach to the problem.

Click It or Ticket

NHTSA seat belt data demonstrate what most Americans already know: seat belts save lives. In 2020, 10,983 vehicle fatality victims were not wearing seatbelts. Over half of them were completely unrestrained young adults between the ages of 18 and 34. As such, the NHTSA launched the Click It or Ticket campaign.

The campaign places renewed emphasis on the irrefutable fact that seatbelts save lives. The NHTSA will be providing technical support to the states during the program and has already launched the first stages of a public education program.

Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents – including cartruck, and motorcycle accidents – need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side. If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!