Michael Noble Jr./Tulsa World by way of AP
DETROIT — Almost 43,000 folks died in U.S. site visitors crashes in 2021, the very best quantity in 16 years with deaths attributable to dashing and impaired or distracted driving on the rise.
The 2021 ultimate numbers, launched Monday by the Nationwide Freeway Visitors Security Administration, confirmed earlier estimates by the company displaying a ten.5% enhance in deaths over 2020. That is the very best quantity since 2005 and the biggest proportion enhance since 1975.
Knowledge exhibits a 12% rise in deadly crashes involving a minimum of one distracted driver, with 3,522 folks killed. That prompted the company to kick off a $5 million promoting marketing campaign in an effort to maintain drivers centered on the highway. Company officers mentioned such instances seemingly are under-reported by police.
The variety of pedestrians killed rose 13%, and bike owner fatalities had been up 2% for the yr. The variety of unbelted passengers killed rose 8.1%, whereas fatalities involving alcohol-impaired driving had been up 14%.
Rushing-related deaths elevated 7.9%, whereas crash deaths involving massive vehicles weighing over 10,000 kilos had been up 17%.
At a information convention Monday in Seattle, NHTSA centered on distracted driving fatalities, which audio system mentioned are totally preventable if folks cease utilizing their cell telephones, consuming, or doing different issues that divert consideration from the highway.
“Bear in mind it solely takes a second to alter your life without end,” mentioned Sophie Shulman, NHTSA deputy administrator.
Steve Kiefer, a retired Common Motors government whose son, Mitchel, was killed in a 2016 distracted driving crash, mentioned cell telephones are a major reason for distraction. However know-how is obtainable to forestall it together with “don’t disturb” modes, in addition to apps and in-car programs that watch drivers to verify they’re paying consideration.
“All of this know-how is obtainable at this time, and there isn’t any motive we will not use it and roll it out shortly,” Kiefer mentioned.
Distracted driving deaths are associated to America’s habit to cell telephones, mentioned Kiefer, who began a basis with the purpose of ending distracted driving. He mentioned 90% of persons are conscious of the hazard of distracted driving, but 80% admit to doing it. In 25 states with legal guidelines towards hand-held cellular phone use, site visitors deaths, crashes and insurance coverage charges have dropped, he mentioned.
“We imagine that laws will change conduct,” Kiefer mentioned.
Mitchel Kiefer was driving from residence to Michigan State College on Interstate 96 when site visitors slowed and his automotive was hit from behind by a driver who was distracted by her telephone, Kiefer mentioned. His automotive was knocked throughout the median and into oncoming site visitors, the place he was killed immediately.