NHTSA Reports Car Crash Fatalities in 2021 Highest since 2005
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report detailing crashes involving motorists in 2021. The increase in crashes from 2020 to 2021 outpaced the increase in vehicles on the road for the same time period. In 2021, 42,939 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, a 10% increase from the 39,007 fatalities in 2020 and the highest total since 2005. Injuries on the roadways increased 9.4%. Meanwhile, total miles traveled only increased by 8.1%. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled increased by 2.2%.
The report also investigated trends pertaining to three behavior factors: speeding, alcohol-impaired driving, and seat belt non-use. While the data compiled on these factors is extensive, it notes that 55% of drivers involved in a fatal accident in 2021 were not impacted by those factors. That 55% includes faulty brakes, headlights, tires, or other vehicular defects that are identified in safety inspections, but are not considered in the report.
The National Roadway Safety Strategy released by the Department of Transportation in January 2022 notes, “To ensure the safe operations of commercial trucks and motor carriers, the Department continues to identify high risk companies and operators of commercial motor-vehicles using a data-driven and performance-based approach, including roadside commercial vehicle safety inspections.” The Federal Government must consider more seriously vehicle condition and repair as part of its goal to understand and address the roadway safety problem.