Over the past few years, researchers have noted an alarming increase in the number of fatal traffic accidents. The statistics are sobering all over the country, including here in North Carolina.
According to statistics recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the United States experienced about 43,000 deaths in traffic accidents in 2021, representing an increase of 10.5% over the previous year. This was the highest number since 2005.
Breaking down the numbers, researchers find some of the biggest increases in pedestrian accidents. Fatal pedestrian accidents were up by 13% last year.
Researchers have several possible explanations for the increases. One is simply that vehicles are heavier than they used to be. A large SUV carries a lot of mass, and that means it strikes with more force if it collides with another vehicle. It’s also true that, statistically speaking, the American population is aging, and older people are more vulnerable in an accident than younger people. Researchers also point to issues in urban planning and design of roadways. Some say that better road designs could better encourage people to abide by speed limits and to watch for pedestrians.
The above explanations make sense when looking at long-term changes, but they don’t necessarily explain why the number of fatalities has risen sharply in just the past few years. One other factor that could help explain the recent increases has to do with the peculiar circumstances of the past two years. With many people working from home, there have been fewer people on the roads. Researchers say that when there are fewer cars on the road, drivers are more likely to speed. When speeding, they are more likely to get into accidents, and those accidents are more likely to be deadly.
Help for the injured and their families
The national trends can seem very distant to the injured and their families. To them, these things are not a matter of statistics. This is about their lives, and how they will pay their bills. If their injuries are the result of the negligence of another driver, they may be able to recover compensation through a personal injury claim.