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U.S. Car Accident Fatalities Up 8 Percent in 2020, Despite Drop in Total Miles Traveled

May 6, 2021 – Matt Albrecht

U.S. Car Accident Fatalities Up 8 Percent in 2020 - Albrecht Law

With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting life across the world, driving was down in 2020. Yet, the total number of traffic fatalities increased by approximately 8 percent. According to preliminary data from the National Safety Council (NSC), 42,060 people were killed in car wrecks last year. Here, our Spokane car accident lawyers provide an overview of the data and explain what the highway safety experts think happened in 2020.

Report: Mileage Driven Dropped 13 Percent, But Traffic Deaths Rose 8 Percent

Recently, the NSC released its preliminary assessment of car crashes for the year 2020. The data is alarming. Researchers estimate that total miles driven by Americans dropped by 13 percent in 2020, yet car accident deaths rose by 8 percent during the same period. To be clear, this is still the preliminary report from the National Safety Council. That being said, the NSC’s initial estimate is typically quite accurate. The final data from 2019 was nearly identical to the safety advocacy group’s initial report.

Why Were Fatal Accidents Up in 2020?

Many people are wondering why the car accident rate was so much higher last year. The short answer is that no one knows for sure. The issue is still being studied by highway safety researchers. That being said, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an initial report last fall pointing the blame at an increase in risky driving behaviors. Specifically, the DOT cites two primary issues as its leading cause of concerns:

  1. An increase in speeding on less-cluttered roads; and
  2. A rise in the amount of intoxicated driving.

Notably, the NSC finds that the rate of overall car accidents did not rise as much as the rate of serious car accidents. Speeding and intoxicated driving are both risky behaviors that dramatically increase the likelihood of a catastrophic or fatal collision.

The Trend is in the Wrong Direction—Highest Car Accident Death Toll Since 2007

Car accident fatalities peaked in the United States in the 1970s. During the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s the rate of serious crashes gradually declined. Unfortunately, we are seeing a turn in the long-term trend. In 2020, the NSC estimates that the U.S. had the highest number of total traffic deaths since 2007. While there was a jump last year, 2020 was not an outlier. The number of U.S. highway fatalities has been slowly increasing since 2013. We need to do more to make our roads safe for people.

Call Our Spokane, WA Auto Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation

At‌ ‌Albrecht‌ ‌Law‌ ‌PLLC, our Washington motor vehicle collision lawyers know how to get results for our clients. If you or your loved one was hurt in a traffic accident, we will help you get justice and the full financial compensation that you deserve. Contact our firm right away to set up your free case review. We represent car accident victims throughout Eastern Washington, including in Spokane, Spokane Valley, Airway Heights, Look Lake, Chewelah, Colfax, Pullman, and Wilbur.

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