In 2021, America had the highest number of traffic deaths in 16 years. There were almost 43,000 fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents involving reckless driving such as speeding and impaired or distracted driving.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued its final data for 2021 in March. It confirmed its earlier estimates that there was a 10.5% rise in fatalities from 2020 to 2021. This is the highest number of deaths since 2005 and the greatest percentage increase in 46 years.
There were 3,522 people killed in traffic accidents involving at least one distracted motorist which is a 12% rise. But, even worse, the NHTSA said that police probably under-report these cases.
Pedestrian deaths increased by 13%. Cyclist fatalities rose by 2% for 2021.
Alcohol-impaired driving deaths were up by 14%. Fatalities from speeding-related accidents increased by 7.9%. Accident deaths involving trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds increased by 17%.
NHTSA focused on distracted driving when it released this data. The agency said that these deaths are preventable if motorists stop using their cell phones, eating, drinking, or engaging in other tasks which divert their attention from driving.
A retired General Motorist Executive, whose son was killed in a 2016 distracted driving accident, said that cell phones are the major distraction. According to this executive, 90% of drivers are aware of the dangers associated with distracted driving, but 80% admit to engaging in this conduct anyway.
He said that traffic fatalities, accidents and insurance rates dropped in the 25 states that outlawed using hand-held cell phone use while driving. Do not disturb modes and apps and in-car systems are now available that watch drivers to assure they are paying attention.
Victims of a distracted or reckless driver or their families may be entitled to compensation. A personal injury lawsuit must be filed within a specified period of time.