‘Deadly step backwards’: US traffic deaths soar to highest total in 16 años

Por poco 43,000 people were killed on US roads last year, the highest number in 16 años, as Americans returned to the roads after the coronavirus pandemic forced many to stay at home.

los 10.5% jump over 2020 numbers was the largest percentage increase since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began its fatality data collection system in 1975.

Exacerbating the problem was a persistence of risky driving behaviors during the pandemic, such as speeding and less frequent use of seat belts, as people began to venture out more in 2021 for out-of-state and other road trips, analysts said.

The transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, said America faced a crisis on its roads.

“Our nation has taken a dangerous and deadly step backwards in traffic safety and impaired driving,” said Alex Otte,national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who urged strong public-private efforts akin to the seat belt and air bag public safety campaigns of the 1990s to stem reckless driving. “More families and more communities are feeling the crushing magnitude of this crisis on our roads.”

Preliminary figures released on Tuesday by the agency show that 42,915 people died in traffic crashes last year, desde 38,824 en 2020. Final figures will be released in the fall.

Forty-four states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had increases in traffic deaths in 2021 compared to the previous year, led by Texas, California and Florida. Posting declines were Wyoming, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Maryland and Maine. Rhode Island’s figures were unchanged.

Americans drove about 325bn more miles last year, 11.2% higher than in 2020, which contributed to the increase.

Por poco 118 people died in US traffic crashes every day last year, according to the agency’s figures. The Governors Highway Safety Association, a group of state traffic safety officials, blamed the increase on dangerous behavior such as speeding, driving while impaired by alcohol and drugs, and distracted driving, as well as “roads designed for speed instead of safety”.

The combination, the group said, “has wiped out a decade and a half of progress in reducing traffic crashes, injuries and deaths”.

Deaths last year increased in almost all types of crashes, NHTSA reported.

Fatalities in urban areas and deaths in multi-vehicle crashes each rose 16%. Pedestrian deaths were up 13%. Fatalities involving speeding drivers and deaths in alcohol-related crashes each were up 5%

NHTSA has blamed reckless driving behavior for increases during the pandemic, citing behavioral research showing that speeding and traveling without a seat belt have been higher. Antes 2020, the number of fatalities had fallen for three straight years.

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