31,720. That’s the number of people who died on U.S. roads in the first nine months of 2021 alone, and it’s a record that keeps rising due to an increase in dangerous driving during the pandemic.
The estimated figure given by the government shows that from January to September 2021, crash rates were 12 percent higher than the same period in 2020. It’s the highest percentage increase over a nine-month period since the Transportation Department started keeping fatal crash records in 1975.
It’s also the highest nine-month figure since 2006, according to the Associated Press.
Data shows that fatalities increased in 38 states, mostly in the West and South. Numbers declined in 10 states and D.C.
These numbers suggest the U.S. will surpass 40,000 traffic deaths in a year for the first time since 2007.
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These numbers have been surging since Covid lockdowns ended in 2020. More drivers engaged in unsafe behavior like speeding and driving while impaired, according to Reuters.
During the lockdowns, roads became less crowded, and some drivers perceived police were less likely to issue tickets because of Covid.
The NHTSA released behavioral research findings in March 2020 through June. They show incidents of speeding and driving without a seatbelt were higher than before the pandemic.
Last week, the U.S. Transportation Department released a strategy to cut down on the soaring number of tariff deaths, which the agency now calls a “crisis.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Reuters in an interview that there needs to be a “mentality shift” in the U.S.
“The country has just become used to it. We’ve just come to assume or expect that it’s inevitable,” Buttigieg said. “We would never tolerate 40,000 deaths in aircraft in the United States or from food poisoning at restaurants or in subways.”
Buttigieg also outlined the department’s new “National Roadway Safety Strategy.” It’s meant to encourage designing safer roads and safer vehicles. He’s also embracing “Vision Zero,” which is the poorly named idea that the U.S. could eventually eliminate all traffic deaths.
Be safe out there, folks. It doesn’t seem like your fellow countrymen have much to lose.