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Car crash deaths near 43,000 in 2021, highest number in 16 years

 Nearly 43,000 people died in car crashes in 2021, the highest number in 16 years
George Huffman
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Unsplash
Nearly 43,000 people died in car crashes in 2021, the highest number in 16 years

Nearly 43,000 people died in vehicle crashes on U.S. roadways in 2021, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The number of crash deaths is the highest in 16 years.

Adam Snider is with the Governors Highway Safety Association. He said people began driving less safely in 2020, and those behaviors continued, and worsened, in 2021.

"Unfortunately the pandemic broke something in the way we drive," he said. "People not wearing their seat belts, drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding, any one of those alone is incredibly dangerous. It's just a deadly mixture and we're seeing these awful numbers as a result."

The number of pedestrians killed by drivers of cars also jumped 13%. Snider said modern SUV and truck designs that include large, high grills that impede visibility played a role in the increase in those deaths.

Deaths of passengers who were not wearing seatbelts rose 8.1%.

Snider called the spike in deaths "awful," and said the response should include traffic calming measures and better enforcement, as well as a society-wide re-education effort from federal, state, and local governments and non-governmental groups to change drivers' behavior.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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