Virginia residents may have noticed a distinct increase in traffic fatalities as of late, and in 2021 nationwide traffic fatalities hit a 16-year high. The increase can serve as an important wake-up call to prioritize vehicle safety when behind the wheel. Almost 43,000 people died in 2021 due to driving behaviors such as speeding and distracted or impaired driving.
Speeding increases the likelihood of an accident becoming fatal to the driver and passengers. In 2021, speeding accidents increased by 7.9%, and the number of passengers killed due to not wearing seatbelts rose by 8.1%. Speeding, in particular, makes a car’s impact more severe, increasing the number of fatalities and more severe injuries.
According to the National Safety Council (NFC), fatalities from speeding accidents represent almost 30% of all traffic fatalities. Speeding is determined as the cause when a driver crashes due to racing, exceeding the posted speed limit or driving unsafely or too fast for the current road conditions.
Driving while distracted continues to contribute to traffic accidents and fatalities significantly. With the increase in smartphone use and other technology, drivers can become distracted more often. Accidents due to distracted driving increased by 12%, and sources say police may under-report these accidents. While driving, actions such as checking a text or social media, adjusting GPS or eating lunch while driving contribute to distracted-driving accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) is focusing on increasing public awareness about distracted driving
because these accidents are entirely preventable.
Distracted driving also places others in danger, such as pedestrians and cyclists. For example, cyclist fatalities rose by 2%, and pedestrian deaths increased by 13% in 2021.
Driving while under the influence continues to cause fatal motor vehicle accidents. Despite harsh penalties and ongoing, widespread public education campaigns, many drivers still choose to drive after consuming alcohol or drugs. In 2021, alcohol-related fatalities rose by 14%.
An awareness of the continuing rise in traffic fatalities can help drivers understand the importance of vehicle safety and not driving while distracted or impaired.