Traffic accidents in Maryland and around the country claimed 20,160 lives during the first six months of 2021 according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This figure has road safety advocates extremely concerned because it represents a worrying 18.4% increase over the number killed on the nation’s roads during the first two quarters of 2020. NHTSA says the six-month increase is the largest ever recorded by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
Vehicle miles traveled also increased
Travel restrictions caused vehicle miles traveled to plummet in 2020, but drivers got back behind the wheel in large numbers in 2021. The number of miles covered by motor vehicles in the United States increased by 173.1 billion during the first six months of 2021, but that 13% increase does not fully explain the surge in road deaths. The NHTSA report did not speculate about the causes of the unexpected increase in accident fatalities, but it did state that the number of drivers who failed to use seat belts, ignored speed limits, or got behind the wheel while impaired also increased.
Maryland bucks the trend
Figures released by Zero Deaths Maryland reveal that the state bucked the national trend. They show that 553 people died in car accidents in Maryland during 2021, which represents a drop of almost 3.5% from the 573 killed in 2020. The Federal Highway Administration has announced a series of measures that officials hope will stem the sobering rise in road deaths. These measures include improving crosswalk and roadway visibility, installing bicycle lanes, and introducing variable speed limits.
Distraction may be more to blame
Road fatalities remain alarmingly high despite major improvements in road design and great leaps in automobile safety technology. Some experts believe these features actually make cars more dangerous because they give drivers a false sense of security, but many more feel the trend is primarily being fueled by rampant cellphone use and distraction.
While car accidents declining in 2021 in Maryland is great, any accident can still be life-altering. Seeking medical treatment and at least consulting with a local car accident attorney are still two wise steps to take after an accident.