U.S. road deaths jumped 10.5% in 2021 to 42,915 – the highest number of U.S. road deaths in a single year since 2005, U.S. regulators said in their preliminary estimate on Tuesday. .
The annual increase is the highest reported since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began using its current traffic fatality tracking system in 1975.
“We are facing a crisis on America’s roads that we must solve together,” said US Secretary of Transportation (USDOT) Pete Buttigieg.
In January, USDOT has released a strategy designed to reduce the growing death toll on US roads.
Road deaths rose after coronavirus lockdowns ended in 2020 as more drivers engaged in dangerous behaviors like speeding and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Road deaths in 2020 were up 6.8% and 18% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Forty-four US states and the District of Columbia are all expected to see an increase in road deaths.
NHTSA said the death rate in 2021 fell slightly to 1.33 deaths per 100 million miles driven, from 1.34 million in 2020, which was the highest rate since 2007.
One of the factors for the big jump in 2020 is that drivers who stayed on the roads engaged in riskier behavior, NHTSA said.
As U.S. roads became less congested, some motorists perceived police were less likely to issue tickets because of COVID-19, experts say.
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