NHTSA: U.S. Traffic Deaths Rose In 2021 To Highest Level Since 2005


Traffic deaths in the United States rose in 2021 to their highest level in 16 years, according to a preliminary estimate released Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The estimated number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes was 42,915, an increase of 10.5% from the 2020 total of 38,824, the steepest yearly jump in fatalities since 2005, according to the agency’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FAR

S), which has gathered the data since 1975.

“We face a crisis on America’s roadways that we must address together,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.in a statement.

The number of traffic deaths has climbed sine Covid-19 lockdowns ended in 2020, according to NHT

SA, which attributed it to increased speeding, and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

The record surge also came as American drove more.


Preliminary data from the Federal Highway Administration show that vehicle miles traveled in 2021 increased by about 325 billion miles, or about 11.2%, as compared to 2020.

But even when pandemic-related restrictions encouraged people to work from home and drive less, the upward swing in deaths continued. Traffic fatalities rose 6.8% from 2019.

NHTSA estimates that 44 states and the District of Columbia reported an increase.

Measured on the basis of miles driven, the traffic death rate declined slightly to 1.33 fatalities per 100 million miles from 1.34 per 100 million miles driven in 2020.

“This crisis on our roads is urgent and preventable,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Deputy Administrator. “We will redouble our safety efforts, and we need everyone – state and local governments, safety advocates, automakers, and drivers – to join us. All of our lives depend on it.”

The agency last week launched a “Click it or Ticket” campaign to boost enforcement of seat belts laws.

In addition, a new Safe Streets and Roads for All program created under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill President Joe Biden signed in November, will provide $1 billion in grants efforts to protect pedestrians, bicyclists and others, aside from car and truck drivers.

These include projects that physically separate those traveling at different speeds, provide dedicated times for different users to travel through a space, as well as alert motorists, pedestrians and cyclists of the presence of each other.

NHTSA’s preliminary data showed that pedestrian deaths rose 13% from 2020, Bicyclist fatalities increased 5% and motorcyclist deaths jumped 9% over the same period.


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