‘Our roads are becoming riskier’: Roadway deaths up in first half of 2021

Photo: vm/iStockphoto

Itasca, IL — The number of motor vehicle-related deaths jumped 16% in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2020, according to preliminary estimates released by the National Safety Council.

NSC says that more than 21,400 people were killed on the nation’s roads over the first six months of the year – up from 18,480 in 2020 and 18,384 in 2019. This upward trend began in conjunction with the COVID-19 pandemic and “negates more than 15 years of progress in preventing death on U.S. roads,” a council press release states.

“These figures are not only alarming, but devastating, as we see once again too many lives lost on the roads,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said. “It is up to each and every one of us to do everything we can to be safe and keep each other safe. NSC implores every person to take safe driving practices seriously; they could be the difference between someone living or dying.”

NSC estimates that 42,000 people died on the roads last year, indicating a 24% rise in the death rate, while the total number of miles driven dropped 13%. Through the first half of this year, the council says the death rate climbed another 3%.

“Our roads are becoming riskier not only each day, but each year,” said Mark Chung, vice president of roadway practice at NSC. “We need to help each other in making the roads in our communities safer for all users.”

To help ensure roadway safety, the council is urging drivers to:
Drive distraction-free. As Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows, thousands of people have died in crashes involving cellphone use. Put it away and #JustDrive.
Slow down and move over. Speeding is a factor in more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities. Don’t exceed the speed limit and be sure to move over for emergency vehicles with flashing lights.
Designate a sober driver or arrange an alternative mode of transportation. Alcohol is only one cause of impaired driving. Drugs – including opioids, cannabis and some over-the-counter medicines – can impair drivers by causing drowsiness, altering visual functions, and affecting mental judgment and motor skills. Don’t get behind the wheel if you’re in this state.
Buckle up. Since 1975, seat belts are estimated to have saved nearly 375,000 lives. Buckle up and make sure you have the appropriate car seats installed correctly for children.
Check for open recalls. In the United States, more than 50 million vehicles have unrepaired safety recalls, and many of those recalls involve defective parts that can pose serious risks to occupants.

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