The year 2021 saw a 16-year high in traffic fatalities in Texas and throughout the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 38,824 fatalities in motor vehicle crashes in 2021, up 10.5% from the previous year as per the Department of Transportation. This increase is particularly concerning given the significant improvements in vehicle safety technology and public awareness campaigns in recent years.
Increased risky behavior
One of the reasons for the rise in traffic fatalities from motor vehicle accidents is the increase in risky behavior on the road. This includes speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and distracted driving.
Lack of seat belt usage
Despite widespread knowledge of the importance of seat belt usage, many people still fail to wear them while driving or riding in a vehicle. For example, the NHTSA reports that half of all passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2021 were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.
Increase in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities
Another concerning trend is the increase in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities. In 2021, there were 7,485 pedestrian deaths, while cyclist deaths also continued to climb from the previous year.
The aging infrastructure of the United States, including roads, bridges and tunnels, may also contribute to the rise in traffic fatalities. Poor road conditions and outdated design can lead to accidents and deaths, particularly in areas with heavy traffic volumes.
Addressing the issue
To address the issue of traffic fatalities, it is vital to take a comprehensive approach that includes managing risky behavior on the road, promoting seat belt usage, conducting valuable infrastructure maintenance and implementing measures to support pedestrian and cyclist safety. This may involve increased enforcement of traffic laws, public awareness campaigns and government investment in infrastructure projects.
Furthermore, continued research and development of vehicle safety technology can help reduce accident risk and fatalities on the road. This includes advancements in autonomous driving technology, improved crash protection systems and integration of safety features such as blind spot detection and lane departure warnings.
Tackling a worrying trend
The rise in traffic fatalities in 2021 is a concerning trend that highlights the need for further efforts to promote safe driving and reduce risky behavior on the road. However, by taking a comprehensive approach that includes contributions from motorists, pedestrians, law enforcement and policymakers, traffic fatalities can start to decline again.