In response to deadly car accidents, automotive manufacturers implemented safety features such as airbags, lane departure signaling and backup cameras. At the same time, public service announcements warned us of the dangers associated with intoxicated, distracted and drowsy driving.
For years, these measures seemed to be helping as the United States began to see a decline in fatalities on the country’s roadways. But in recent years, we are beginning to see a spike in dangerous driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) works with the auto industry and other government agencies to help ensure the safety of anyone using the roads. This includes motorists, commercial vehicle drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
According to their reports, over 12,330 people died in 2021 due to drivers traveling at a high rate of speed, an increase of 8% from the previous year. And even though vehicles are becoming increasingly safer, crashes caused the deaths of an alarming 42,915 people in 2021, which is a 10.5% increase since 2020 and the highest it has been since 2005.
Another area of concern is the increase in work zone fatalities, which increased by 10.8% between 2020 and 2021.
Various factors contribute to the rise in highway fatalities. For a while, the streets and highways were relatively empty. Drivers took advantage of the open roads to speed, leading to dangerous accidents.
The most dangerous driving behaviors, such as speeding and impaired driving, contributed to a sharp increase in traffic deaths. Traffic deaths sharply increased in 2022 to 42,795 from 36,355 in 2019.
Unfortunately, there isn’t just one solution to this complex problem. The government, automotive manufacturers, advocacy groups, and individuals must work together to implement a multi-faceted approach.
This issue is more than numbers and statistics. It’s about lives lost, and families devastated. Holding people accountable for their actions can also send a message to others. By doing so, hopefully, we can start to reverse this distressing trend of highway fatalities.