Deaths From Car Accidents Increased 30% This Year in Some States
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As if a fourth wave of the pandemic weren’t enough, the first six months of this year has also seen a spike in car accident fatalities, as compared to the past two years. According to the non-profit National Safety Council, there were 21,450 traffic-related fatalities from January to June of 2021.
For comparison, in the first six months of 2020, there were 18,480 traffic-related fatalities. In 2019, that figure was even less, at 18,384.
According to CBS News, President and CEO of the National Safety Council Lorraine Martin said in a statement, "These figures are not only alarming but devastating, as we see once again too many lives lost on the roads." She added, "It is up to each and every one of us to do everything we can to be safe and keep each other safe."
These eight states experienced car accident fatality rates of at least 30%
CBS News reported that a total of eight states experienced spikes in vehicle-related deaths of 30% or more. The states with the highest increases were Oregon and South Dakota, at 261 and 65 deaths respectively, both of which represented a 51% increase in fatalities. Next came Minnesota, with 211 deaths, which represented a 41% increase.
Idaho had the next-highest increase in fatalities, with 107 deaths representing a 39% increase. Then Nevada, with 181 deaths representing a 38% increase. Other states with an increase in traffic-related deaths totaling over 30% included Utah, Vermont, and Tennessee, which had 150, 28, and 682 deaths, respectively. These numbers represented a respective 36%, 33%, and 30% increase.
In a 2020 statement, Vice President of the National Safety Council Mark Chung lamented the loss of life happening on American roads. "We need to help each other in making the roads in our communities safer for all users," said Chung. "If you witness unsafe driving behaviours, say something if you are able and possibly save someone from losing their life."
Some states saw a decreased car accident fatality rate
Though the death rate from car accidents is on the rise overall, six states saw a decline in car accident fatalities, as compared to last year. Maine saw the largest decrease, with 54 deaths representing a 22% drop in fatalities.
Kansas also saw a double-digit decrease, with 116 deaths representing a 19% drop. Next was Alaska, with 22 deaths representing an 8% decrease; then Rhode Island with 32 deaths representing a 6% decrease; and finally Connecticut and Wisconsin, with 147 deaths and 242 deaths respectively, both representing a 1% decrease.
How you can keep yourself and other passengers safe from car accidents
Despite this spike in road fatalities, there are plenty of ways drivers can protect themselves. Safety recommends a variety of tips for increasing your driving safety and reducing risk of injury for you and your passengers. While some of their recommendations may seem intuitive, they are often not followed properly and can ultimately save lives.
First off, always fasten your seatbelt and ensure that your passengers have done the same. While this might sound obvious, buckling up could have saved an estimated 15,000 lives in 2017, according to data collected by the National Highway Safety Administration. Only 90% of Americans follow this seemingly simple rule—make sure that you’re not in the 10% who don’t.
Other safety tips included avoiding texting or checking your phone while driving, using the left lane for passing, using the acceleration ramp to speed up before merging onto the interstate, and refraining from driving too closely behind other vehicles.
Safety also advises driving within the speed limit, adding that according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, "speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities."
Safety further recommends practicing defensive driving, preparing your car for extreme weather conditions, and ensuring that you never drive while drunk or under the influence of drugs.
Another essential safety tip is staying calm, as one of the leading causes of traffic fatalities is road rage. According to SafeMotorist, 66% of traffic-related deaths can be attributed to "aggressive driving."
No matter which state you’re in, regardless of whether it’s seen an increase or decrease in car accident-related deaths over the past six months, be sure to stay safe while you’re on the road. And whether you're involved in a car accident or not, Jerry can help you compare car insurance rates, find the best deal for you, and save you money.