Fewer people are driving, but more are dying on the roads. Michigan among states with increased death rates
The United States is on track to surpass the record for road fatalities last year and Michigan is on the list of states with a growing number of road fatalities.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that despite fewer drivers on the road, the fatality rate was on the rise. The same can be said in the first three months of 2021, according to the new NHTSA report.
In the first quarter of 2021, 8,730 people died in traffic accidents across the country. This represents an increase of 10.5% compared to the same period last year.
Similarly, Michigan recorded 77 more deaths and 420 more serious injuries compared to the same period last year. To date, 847 people have died and 4,340 have been seriously injured on Michigan roads, according to Michigan State Police.
Breaking down deaths by region, the Midwest saw a 15% increase from a year ago. The NHTSA regional assessment includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
In comparison, the western states saw the largest increase of 28%, while the southeastern states saw a 6% decrease in the number of deaths.
The NHTSA has been tracking road deaths since 1975. While fatalities have been on the rise for some time, the report states that the third and fourth quarters of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 showed a significant increase in the number of fatalities from compared to the corresponding quarters of 2019 and 2020.
The report did not offer a conclusive answer as to the cause of the spike, but NHTSA is examining the effect of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. The report says pandemic restrictions are one reason for the decrease in travel – a trend that continued into the first quarter of 2021.
National vehicle kilometers traveled fell by about 14.9 billion kilometers, a drop of about 2.1%, according to the report.
Early estimates suggest that driving habits, including speeding, not wearing a seat belt, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, continued after a spike in erratic driving in 2020.
âWe must address the tragic loss of life that we saw on the roads in 2020 by taking a transformational and collaborative approach to safety. Everyone – including those who design, operate, build and use the road network – shares responsibility for road safety, âsaid Steven Cliff, NHTSA Acting Administrator. “We are working closely with our safety partners to address risky driving behaviors such as speeding, driving under the influence and failing to wear a seat belt.”
NHTSA released a 641-page report, Countermeasures That Work, offering solutions to alcohol and drug impaired driving, bike safety, distracted driving, drowsy driving, motorcycle safety. , older drivers, pedestrian safety, seat belts and child restraints, speeding and speed management, and young drivers.
Michigan is part of the National Toward Zero Deaths Campaign, which tracks crash statistics, promotes safety culture and strategy, and champions the idea that one fatality on our nation’s roads is too many.
MLive tracks the increase in the number of road fatalities in Michigan with a weekly accident report.
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