A recent report by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found an estimated 42,915 fatal traffic accidents in 2021. This is a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 fatal traffic accidents in 2020. The report was issued after the NHTSA completed a special analysis to show the statistical projection of traffic fatalities, which examines the major factors that cause traffic fatalities.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, 325 billion more vehicle miles were traveled in 2021 than in 2020. However, the fatality rate in 2021 was 1.33 fatalities per 100 million, which is lower than the rate of 1.34 fatalities in 2020.
The report shows that 2021 had the highest number of fatalities since 2005 and the largest percentage increase in history under the fatality analysis reporting. In response to these numbers, programs are being funded under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help create safer roadways.
2021 Traffic Fatality Categories
According to the NHTSA, the following categories had significant increases in deaths in 2021 compared to 2020:
- Fatalities in multi-vehicle crashes up 16%
- Urban road fatalities up 16%
- Fatalities of drivers 65 and older up 14%
- Pedestrian fatalities up 13%
- Fatalities with crashes involving at least one large truck up 13%
- Daytime fatalities up 11%
- Motorcyclist fatalities up 9%
- Bicyclist fatalities up 5%
- Fatalities in speeding-related crashes up 5%
- Fatalities in police-reported, alcohol-involvement crashes up 5%
The NHTSA links the key factor in these increases to the changes in travel due to COVID-19 . During the pandemic, not much traveling occurred, but now, more people are driving and there is more exposure to risk.