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Risky Driving Behaviors Linked to Jump in Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes

COVID-19 increased car fatalities

The latest federal report shows that fatal motor vehicle crashes continue to climb and points to two negligent driving behaviors as major contributors.

In early March the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration released “Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2020,” a comprehensive look at car and commercial truck accidents for the most recent year with finalized data.

A recent rise in fatal motor vehicle accidents continued in 2020, according to the NHTSA report.  Nearly 39,000 people died in car crashes and truck crashes that year – a nearly 7% jump in fatalities from 2019.

Missouri Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths

The rise in Missouri motor vehicle accident deaths was even higher, with a 12% increase in 2020 over 2019, placing it among the states with the highest jump in fatal car crashes.

The number of people killed in commercial truck crashes in 2020 was 4,965.  The overwhelming majority of those who died (83%) were occupants in other vehicles or pedestrians.

The number of pedestrians killed in semi-truck accidents hiked 9% in 2020 over 2019.  This continues a disturbing trend in pedestrian and bicyclists killed in commercial truck crashes. Between 2011 and 2020, pedestrian deaths in large truck accidents rose 53% and bicyclist deaths some 40%,

The total motor vehicle accident deaths in 2020 were the highest in the United States since 2007. This is quite alarming as the pandemic took hold in the first three quarters of that year, markedly reducing traffic volume. The nation’s number of total-vehicle-miles-driven fell 11% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Drunk Driving, Speeding Fatal Crashes

While people were driving less overall, risky driving that causes catastrophic motor vehicle crashes increased. Both drunk-driving and speeding – two negligent driving behaviors cited in the report – rose in 2020.

That year saw a 14% jump in drunk-driving crash deaths and a 17% spike in speed-related crash deaths. Both of these increases were double the 7% increase in 2020 total motor vehicle crash fatalities. Drunk-driving crashes accounted for 30% of motor vehicle accident deaths in 2020.

Distracted drivers also were a significant factor in 2020 fatal crashes.  Distracted driving crashes accounted for 8% of all motor vehicle accident deaths that year.

Deaths in nighttime crashes increased 12% over 2019.  This could be linked to the 2020 increase in drunk drivers. This rise in nighttime fatalities – especially pedestrian deaths – may also be linked to an over-reliance on technology.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently reported on its study of pedestrian deaths and automatic emergency braking systems.  These systems are designed to detect upcoming roadway objects, such as pedestrians, and stop the vehicles if necessary.  The IIHS found AEB systems worked well in the daylight to prevent pedestrian crash deaths but had no effect in the dark.

If you were seriously injured or had a family member die in a crash caused by another driver, turn to a personal injury attorney experienced in conducting detailed motor vehicle accident investigations and holding accountable those responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog April 8, 2022