NHTSA: Quarterly Fatality Estimates Report for 2021
October 15, 2021
According to a recently released report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the first three months of 2021 saw a 10.5% jump in fatal motor vehicle accidents as compared to the first quarter of the previous year. Despite the fact that there was a marked decrease in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per person, the fatality rate increased. The agency notes that the majority of roadway deaths appear to be connected to concerning and dangerous trends in driving behaviors like speeding, the failure to wear seat belts, and driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Risk Factors for Motor Vehicle Accidents
In order to promote public safety and safe driving behaviors, the NHTSA also released the 10th edition of its report entitled Countermeasures That Work. Some of the main program areas that the report focuses on are:
- Older drivers
- Pedestrian safety
- Seat belts and child restraint systems
- Speeding and speed management
- Impaired driving
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Bicycle and motorcycle safety
- Young drivers
The agency found that risky driving behaviors have become more commonplace during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The NHTSA hopes that by focusing on particular safety issues for drivers – like drowsy driving, distracted driving, speeding and speed management, and more – it can aid in preventing individuals from participating in destructive behaviors that all too often lead to preventable and deadly motor vehicle accidents.
Altogether, the NHTSA estimates that 8,730 people died in motor vehicle accidents during the first three months of this year (as compared to the 7,900 fatalities that occurred in the first quarter of 2020). Despite the increase in the number of roadway deaths, Americans traveled nearly 15 billion fewer miles during that period than they did the year before. With people spending less time behind the wheel yet simultaneously facing greater risks for sustaining catastrophic and deadly injuries in vehicular collisions, it is critical that we all become familiar with safe driving strategies that can effectively limit crash rates and save lives.
Countermeasures to Get Home Safe
There are basic steps that every driver can take to stay safe behind the wheel – and to keep others on the road safe, too. For example, speeding is notoriously dangerous and a major factor in thousands of accidents every year. According to the NHTSA, speed-related motor vehicle fatalities typically account for about one-third of all traffic deaths. There are certain factors that tend to accompany speeding, such as wet and icy roadway surfaces, the failure to wear a seat belt, driver alcohol use, the driver not being properly licensed, and driving at night. Younger drivers, especially younger male drivers, are most likely to be involved in fatal speed-related crashes.
Younger drivers are not only more likely to get into an accident from speeding but also as a result of being distracted behind the wheel or being impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. All in all, young drivers are more prone to participating in risky driving behaviors due to their overall lack of experience behind the wheel as well as their immaturity. One particularly effective strategy that promotes safe and responsible driving behaviors among younger, less experienced drivers is the graduated driver licensing (GDL) system. The GDL provides new drivers with gradual experience and skill over a certain period of time.
Like young drivers, older drivers also face their own unique roadway risks. For example, older drivers often experience a gradual decline in physical and cognitive abilities that can affect their hearing, reaction times, vision, and muscle tone. The NHTSA reports that older drivers are more likely to fail to detect the speed of an oncoming vehicle when making a left turn and may drive slower than other vehicles on the road. There are numerous strategies that help older drivers to retain their mobility and keep everyone safe, like useful vehicle adaptations (e.g. extra mirrors for increased visibility), helping drivers to adapt to medical circumstances (like getting glasses or cataract surgery), and license renewal procedures.
Other risk factors for fatal roadway incidents include not wearing a seat belt, drowsy driving, driving distracted, and driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Some of the simplest and easiest ways to prevent accidents that involve these behaviors from happening include:
- Always wear a seat belt
- Getting enough sleep so that you are not driving while you are drowsy. Also, avoid taking medications that make you sleepy
- If you are tired behind the wheel, pull over somewhere safe and take a break or a nap
- Never getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or doing drugs. Hail a rideshare app or taxi service or ask a sober friend for a safe ride home
- Do not use your cell phone when you are driving. If you need to use your phone or complete a task, pull over
- Avoid other distractions like eating, drinking, putting on makeup, programming your GPS, or fiddling with your music
Injured in a Car Accident? We Can Help
Committing to being safe and responsible behind the wheel may be one of the best ways to avoid a preventable incident from occurring, but the reality is that accidents still happen every day. Our experienced attorneys have successfully handled thousands of auto accident cases and can help you navigate your own personal injury claim. In one instance, our client was involved in a car accident and suffered extensive injuries, which included a fractured pelvis as well as a fractured leg. Although the insurance company defending the case tried to get our client to accept an unfairly low settlement, we advised our client to decline the offer and to take the case to trial. In the end, the jury returned a verdict in favor of our client for $1,000,000.00 (https://www.galfandberger.com/verdicts/auto-accidents/41-2).
If you sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident and you have questions about filing a personal injury claim, someone at our firm can help. To learn more, contact a representative online now.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Motor Vehicle Accident Victims Since 1947
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