Two weeks ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the statistics for fatal traffic accidents for January through June of 2021, and the numbers are depressing. More than 20,000 people lost their lives in the first half of 2021, an increase of 18.4%. Of course, 2020 saw major changes in driving behaviors, but the jump can’t simply be chalked up to the decrease in driving in 2020. Why? Because the first half of 2021 is the largest number of fatalities from January to June since 2006. The NHTSA has also reached some conclusions as to what is causing so many car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian accidents and what drivers can do to protect themselves and others on the road.
Speeding continues to be an overwhelming problem. In rural areas, of which there are plenty in Tennessee, speeds tend to be higher. Higher speeds typically result in more severe accidents. In rural areas, the fatality rate in severe accidents can be compounded by the lack of a rapid EMS response. It simply takes longer for first responders to arrive on the accident scene and this delay can mean the difference between life and death for crash victims.
The NHTSA also found occupants are not wearing seatbelts at the same rate they were before the pandemic. Researchers are not sure why this is the case, but they are sure that the result is that ejection rates have risen.
Other issues the NHTSA cited were changes in alcohol and drug use, in particular marijuana. The pandemic seems to have caused a spike in the frequency and amount of alcohol and drugs being consumed by drivers. Distracted driving continues to be a problem. Finally, an increase and changes in pedestrian traffic have caused increased fatalities.
It does not take a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist to figure out what the NHTSA recommends:
- Slow down;
- Don’t drive distracted;
- Don’t drive impaired by alcohol or drugs;
- Be on the lookout for pedestrians and share the road.
Apparently, all of this is easier said than done. So in addition to these recommendations, the NHTSA is launching a National Roadway Safety Strategy together with the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop and roll-out comprehensive steps to reduce traffic accidents. The recommendations will be released in January. In the meantime, NHTSA is fast-tracking two other programs: (1) The Focused Approach to Safety which will provide technical assistance resources to the 15 states with the worst safety record on traffic accidents. (Those 15 states account for almost half of the national car accident fatalities); (2) Proven Safety Countermeasures which incorporates road designs proven to improve safety. Some of those measures are dedicated bicycle lanes, speed safety cameras, crosswalk visibility enhancements and more.
Until accidents on our roadways are a thing of the past, you can also protect yourself by getting underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. This insurance is surprisingly affordable and protects you in the event you are injured through the fault of another driver that does not have insurance or does not have enough. To learn more about UM/UIM coverage, read here. When you consider that 1 in 5 drivers in Tennessee are completely uninsured, UM/UIM coverage becomes imperative.
As always, our award-winning lawyers are here to help if you are injured in a car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian accident. We have three convenient Middle Tennessee locations and we offer a free, no-obligation consultation. If we think we can help and you decide to hire us, we handle all accident cases on a contingency basis so we only get paid if we win. To get started, drop us a message on the chat feature or call one of our offices.