In the United States, road deaths skyrocket to highest annual total since 2007


Top line

More than 38,600 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated in a report released Thursday, the highest number of fatalities in more than a decade , even though Americans drove much less in 2020 due to lockdowns linked to the pandemic.


Road deaths increased 7.2%, with about 2,600 more fatalities than in 2019.

The higher death toll comes despite preliminary data from the Federal Highway Administration showing that vehicle kilometers driven in 2020 fell 13.2% to 430.2 billion kilometers.

The fatality rate rose to 1.37 deaths per 100 million kilometers driven last year, the highest since 2006.

The most dramatic surge came in the second half of 2020, when restrictions were relaxed as the number of traffic-related deaths rose by more than 13% from the same period the year before.

Key context:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the three behaviors primarily responsible for the spike were drunk driving, speeding and not wearing a seat belt. Earlier this year, in an open letter to motorists, NHTSA claimed those driving during the pandemic “were taking more risks and had more fatalities.” The agency pointed to preliminary data showing that 65% of drivers hospitalized with a serious crash tested positive for drugs or alcohol and cited a report that found a 22% increase in speeding violations. in some cities. The number of fatalities due to the ejection of occupants from their vehicles increased by 20% in 2020, indicating reduced use of seat belts.


President Joe Biden’s US Jobs Plan includes $ 20 billion to improve road safety, including a new Safe Streets for All program to fund national and local “vision zero” plans. NHTSA Acting Administrator Dr Steven Cliff called the funding “vital” as it will enhance existing safety programs and allow the creation of new ones. “We intend to use all available tools to reverse these trends and reduce road fatalities and injuries,” Cliff said in a press release.

Large number :

5,015: this is the estimated number of motorcyclists killed in crashes in 2020, an increase of 9% compared to the previous year.

Further reading:

2020 fatal crash data shows increase in fatal traffic crashes during pandemic (NHTSA)

An open letter to the driving public (NHTSA)

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