2021 Might Break Records for Traffic Deaths in a Texas City

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There are still a few months left to go in 2021, but it’s already looking to be one of the deadliest years for traffic accident deaths in Austin, Texas.
Three recent deaths in the Texas city put it over the edge—and now, the death toll from car accidents has already surpassed some previous years, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Close-up of a damaged front of a car after an accident
2021 might end up being one of the deadliest years for traffic accident deaths in Austin, Texas.

Traffic death stats in Austin, Texas

A total of 88 people were killed in traffic accidents in Austin in 2019. Even during the pandemic in 2020 when fewer people were driving, that number climbed to 94. In late September, there were already 91 traffic deaths in the city in 2021, with three months left to go in the year.
2015 marked the highest number of traffic deaths for Austin—102 people were killed that year.
Police say there are four main causes of traffic deaths in Austin: speeding, impairment, distracted driving, and failure to yield.

Austin is entering a ‘no-refusal’ period

As the Austin-American Statesman reported, there will be a no-refusal initiative in the city beginning October 1 and ending in September 2022. During that time, every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will be no-refusal days, and police are hoping it will help address drunk driving—which reportedly accounts for about a third of all fatal crashes in Austin.
A no-refusal period allows police to more easily obtain search warrants for blood or breath samples when suspected drunk drivers don’t want to take blood alcohol tests.
Texas has an “implied consent” law, which means that if an individual has a state driver’s licence, they are consenting to a alcohol or drug test if it is requested by a law enforcement officer. A driver can have their license suspended if they refuse the test.
“No-refusal is not about making as many arrests as we can,” Austin Police Assistant Chief Robin Henderson said in a statement, according to the Austin-American Statesman. “It’s a deterrent to keep impaired drivers off of Austin’s roadways and keep the public safe. No-refusal ensures that we have solid blood alcohol content evidence in every DWI arrest and, as such, enhances the ability to prosecute drunk drivers.”

Traffic deaths in other states

Austin, Texas, is not the only area seeing increased traffic accident deaths. As reported by CBS News, the nonprofit National Safety Council recently said that 21,450 people died on the road during the first six months of 2021. Unfortunately, this is an increase from the number of traffic deaths over the same period in each of the past two years.
Other states are seeing even worse increases in traffic deaths overall. Eight states saw increases of 30% or more in vehicle deaths from the first half of 2020 to 2021—and that includes Oregon, South Dakota, Minnesota, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Vermont, and Tennessee.
The rise in traffic fatalities may indicate that driving behaviors got worse during the pandemic, even though driving declined, according to Forbes.
A recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that an estimated 8,730 people died in vehicle accidents in the first three months of 2021 alone, which was a 10.5% increase from deaths projected the same time last year.
The data suggests that even with fewer people on the roads during the pandemic, there’s an increase in risky driving behavior such as failing to wear seat belts, driving under the influence, and speeding.

Slow down and be a careful driver

As workers return to the office through the end of this year and next year, roads may become even more congested.
Hopefully, people will start driving more safely, and traffic fatalities will not get even worse next year.

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