By on May 18, 2022

The latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is confirming what local agencies have already been suggesting. Last year represented another sizable increase in U.S. roadway fatalities, pitching up by 10.5 percent over the elevated death rate witnessed in 2020. The agency has estimated that 42,915 people were killed in 2021, whereas 2020 resulted in 38,824 fatalities — a 7.1-percent increase over the declines seen in 2019. While the current situation is not nearly as bad as the rates witnessed during the 1970s, this still represents the highest per capita fatalities in sixteen years and everyone is trying to get a handle on why.

Traffic deaths have been on the rise since the start of the pandemic, confusing everyone who counts crashes because the supporting data also shows that there was a lot less driving being done during the period. Historically, years where people are disinclined from hitting the road due to a beleaguered economy tend to represent far fewer traffic-related fatalities. We can see this happening in 1942 when the U.S. braced itself to enter World War II by rationing everything from fuel to rubber. Another glaring example takes place in 1932, as the nation reached the darkest point in the Great Depression. In fact, there are very few examples of per capita improvements in on-road deaths from the pre-war period, and those that do exist coincide directly with economic recession. 

The examples become a little less glaring after 1942. But those with enough time on their hands will undoubtedly notice that traffic accidents tend to decline whenever the United States goes through a period of financial hardship. Correlation is not causation. But you can compare every recession that’s on the books against government driving data dating back to 1900 to draw your own conclusions. Though mine would still be that there are simply fewer opportunities for mayhem when the average person is suddenly spending less time behind the wheel.

This places the supposition at odds with our present reality, however. If roadway accidents really do decline whenever Americans have to tighten their belts and keep their vehicles parked at home, why have the last two years shown such a sizable increase in deaths?

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has suggested that a combination of increases in speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence, and “roads designed for speed instead of safety” has sent the United States down the wrong path — allegedly undoing decades of progress. Though the group may not be the one offering solutions everyone likes, as it has been pushing algorithmic software that uses enhanced traffic and in-car cameras to constantly track the behavior and location of individual drivers. Based on initiatives already planned in the European Union, the system also monitors vehicle status and would “ideally” offer the ability to send a live feed of a car’s interior to local law enforcement whenever the algorithm is tripped by a series of undesirable actions. Police would then be able to remotely disable the automobile and have their way with the occupants.

Love or hate the GHSA’s long-term vision, there’s certainly a case to be made regarding distracted driving. Despite everyone thinking cell phones would result in annual spikes in traffic accidents, the fatality rate remained relatively stable as they were ushered into the mainstream. But automakers may have opened Pandora’s box by introducing large touchscreens at the expense of easier-to-use knobs, buttons, and switches. Drivers are now required to interact with visual displays and are difficult to operate using muscle memory alone.

Drug and alcohol use is also unquestionably on the rise since 2010 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported borderline horrifying increases in the frequency of fatal overdoses since the pandemic began. Early data from the CDC has suggested that nearly 108,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021 alone. With that total in mind, it’s easy to assume that a larger number of people climbed behind the wheel while inebriated than in years past.

Speeding is the one factor that’s a little harder to pin down. While there were numerous reports that speeding got out of hand at the start of 2020, attributed to empty roads created by the pandemic, hard data was limited to local law enforcement. This created a patchwork of limited information with the assumption that it had become a nationwide problem. But subsequent reporting has suggested it was a temporary issue. That’s not to suggest that speed wouldn’t play a factor in the death toll, just that the resulting data has been less consistent and harder to prove has become a problem for the whole country. Speeding undoubtedly went up in the spring and summer of 2020, we just don’t know if it continued into 2021.

Regardless of the cause, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said America faces a crisis on its roads that must be addressed. The Department of Transportation is focusing on an alleged decline in seatbelt use, the aforementioned speeding claims, and the assumption that more people went on out-of-state road trips as the pandemic waned. While possible, the latter issue doesn’t make much sense if you take into account that 2020 also represented as sizable an increase in traffic fatalities. Either way, the Biden administration has pledged $5 billion to cities interested in using the funds to slow down cars under the Safe Streets & Roads for All program.

While technically an automotive safety initiative, the funds have been earmarked primarily for things like adding bike lanes, widening sidewalks, and attempting to convince car-owning commuters to switch to public transit. Having more walkable cities isn’t a terrible idea (unless it makes driving a nightmare) and may even improve pedestrian safety. But something tells me there’s more at play here than people lacking sufficient alternatives to the automobile in urban environments. The last two years showed marked increases in vehicular-related deaths and the fact that they coincide with a period where people were undoubtedly driving less could suggest there’s a very serious problem.

Have driving assistance packages dulled people’s skills to a point where they’re now worse drivers? Has the drug epidemic played a role? Did the influx of oversized touchscreens make it impossible for people to keep their eyes on the road? Is this the result of the United States’ population (and average driver) becoming older? Or has the average motorist really turned into a lead-footed maniac with little care for the wellbeing of others by the daily stress of being alive?

[Image: mikeledray/Shutterstock]

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98 Comments on “Why Are Traffic Deaths Increasing While People Are Driving Less?...”


  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I have noticed more drivers texting while driving.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I have too.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Phones are the main problem. That and the growing incompetence of the American public. I’m not just throwing that statement out there as an empty insult. It is simply a fact. And no amount of electronic nannies will change the dumbing down of America.

      • 0 avatar
        Ol Shel

        People had a lot of time to get even more addicted to their phones. Whether it’s heroin, nicotine, or the craving for a dopamine hit from the phone, it’s not rational to expect anyone on withdrawal to be able to avoid another dose.

        I live near a high school, and I truly believe that society is in serious trouble. And,get off my lawn!

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Lol

      “iTs ThOsE cElL pHoNeS aNd TeXtInG”

      Next you people will blame speed.

      Time for a new schtick.

    • 0 avatar
      skeeter44

      No great mystery here – every other driver on the road is on their phones, including the commercial ones.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Road rage shootings are becoming far more common, which leads me to believe that there’s a factor here that isn’t talked about: dickhead behavior of all kinds is on the rise, and it’s not just on the road.

  • avatar
    mor2bz

    it is a miracle the numbers are not far worse. Depression, people working two jobs, prescribed drugs, meth addicts by the millions, potheads higher that
    a kite, faster cars, and huge screens in the car vying for your attention, cellphones all day long.

    Regardless of the reason (s), the insurance companies are not going to lower
    your rates any time soon.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Somehow people have lost all sense of a social contract. It’s all about them, anyone else’s safety be damned.

    This morning, on my way home from taking my kid to school, I was waiting in a line of maybe 10 cars to go through a red light on a city street. Some goof in a Mazda6 came flying past us in the opposing lane at maybe 35 mph. A car traveling the correct direction in that lane had to take evasive action. Then the goof ran the red, without slowing down a bit, and just kept going. If there had happened to be a pedestrian crossing with the light at that moment, that would have been another fatality.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I was simply proceeding along in the left lane of the freeway this morning, when some woman in a Ford Transit just pulled right out in front of me! There was an entire ZIP Code behind me! Had to grenade my brakes down from 72 to 50! So then I pull around her on the right, horn blaring and my middle digit extended! And the woman’s face just looked completely expressionless! Like “IDGAF!” Just completely brain-dead!

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      dal, I recently received a speeding ticket in a school zone, going the posted normal limit…as a new retiree school zones were not something I ever had to pay attention to in the past. Now I hit the brakes to the posted 15 like clockwork. Other drivers flip me off, ride my bumper, curse me out, and pass me on the left or right…yeah going 15 in what is normally 40 is annoying but the rudeness is incredible. I’m hoping one day to see a jerk doing this get a ticket for speeding, reckless driving, crossing a double yellow…I got banged for 6 points and a couple of thousand in penalties and lawyer fees…they will lose their license. I will laugh!

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Jeez, I’m even in the Florida wastelands most people observe the school zone signs.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Fifteen is absolutely ridiculous! In closed (or open—WTF is an OBD II vehicle in on cold start?), most cars will achieve that speed with the driver’s foot off the accelerator!

        How fast were you going?

        Congratulations on your retirement!

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          I was clocked at 41 (posted non school speed is 40). This was not even remotely a high risk school zone. School is 1/4 mile up a hill behind a chain link fence with one entrance with a traffic light and a crossing guard when school starts/ends…this was at 10:45 am. A money grab that’s for sure. The cop could have written me for 39 and saved me a lot of money but that’s not how it works around here where school zones are thick on the ground…and thank you! I wanted to retire before 60! Mission accomplished!

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Surprised that your school zones are 15 rather than 20. I recently got an automated ticket for 27 in a 20 school zone (non-school limit 25), on an early dismissal day at around 1:30 p.m. Whoops.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Elementary and middle school zones are 15, High school zones are 20. Just imagine driving 15 in a 40 at 5:30 pm. The harassment I get is unbelievable. Automated tickets are $75. The cop ticket was over $600 plus surcharges and lawyer fees.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        I know the experience. Posted speed in my neighborhood is 25 mph because there are kids and dogs in my neighborhood and a nearby elementary school. Some of the worst offenders are the soccer moms in their big suvs doing 50 mph or more. If you do 25 mph these drivers are waiving their finger at you. In front of my house I had a new Honda Accord almost totaled by a young mother in a 4 x 4 GMC texting while driving with her son and dog in the front seat and the son was not in a car seat or buckled up. Another instance in front of my house on April Fools day my handyman had is crew cab F250 with his work trailer attached parked and a guy in a crossover hit the rear of the trailer and moved the truck 20 feet. The guy flipped over on his top and totaled the handyman’s new trailer. The guy’s excuse was he was adjusting his radio. The posted speed on my street is 25 mph because it is a residential street. People just don’t pay attention to their driving and no amount of safety devices will prevent all accidents. Sometimes you just can’t fix stupid.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Drivers like the one in the Mazda6 should get an a$$ kicking from the cop, in addition to the ticket or arrest.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Quoting another article on the subject I was just reading, assuming it’s true it’s kind of interesting……..

    “This stat is straight from the NHTSA and is so jaw-dropping it speaks for itself: Of the 22,215 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2019, 47% were not wearing seat belts.”

    Not wearing seatbelts? I swear, some people are dumber than deer.

    https://jalopnik.com/we-can-cut-traffic-deaths-in-half-but-nobody-wants-to-1848892809 if anyone might be interested.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      True I have seen on the TV news many car accidents reported where someone died as a result of not wearing a seat belt. Seat belts have been around long enough for people to get use to them. Not wearing seat belts qualifies for a Darwin award.

  • avatar
    wdburt1

    In my very informal survey on suburban and exurban streets and two-lane highways, about one in three oncoming drivers is looking down or sideways at something in the car–either a smartphone or touch screen, obviously. Unless they just spilled their coffee.

    The trick they have seemingly all learned is to glance at the road now and then and maintain eyes-ahead only until they think they know that the oncoming car (that’s me) presents no danger. Then, right before they pass me, they return to looking at the smartphone. All of which tells me that whatever their “device” is doing, it has a grip on them that can only be described as a pathetic addiction.

  • avatar

    I’m seeing a lot more erratic….not just oblivious, but actively erratic. Staying away from the crazy is key. I was being tailgated, moved over, and watched him tailgate the next two. Another guy was probably three sheets to the wind, and overall….

    Never Engage the Crazy.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      That’s excellent advice. It takes a lot of forbearance to just “let it go”, and I suspect some of the road rage incidents are due to those who CAN’T just let it go. But the results of accidents and road rage clearly indicate it’s the safest choice you can make behind the wheel, for yourself and your passengers.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    There is plenty of crazy on the road.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    I’d think determining whether modern car UI is a contributor would be possible if the data on yr/make/model can be correlated. If the fatalities involve (either party) a ‘bigscreen’ vehicle, that’s something. Although its use goes back past 2020, I’ve noticed a lot more erratic lane-changing/cornering that I think is attributable to Waze or Waze-like poor turn-by-turn direction and people’s seemingly blindly following em.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Thoughts:

    • The mix of people driving and the vehicles which ‘stayed’ on the road during the pandemic vs. those which stayed home/drove less is/was different. Speculation: The ‘haves’ with capable vehicles felt even more entitled and drove more aggressively. The ‘have-nots’ with vehicles needing repairs for safe operation became a larger percentage of vehicles on the road (no choice to work from home). The ‘giant middle’ of conservative drivers with average vehicles stayed home and out of the way, so you lost their moderating effect on traffic patterns.

    • The law enforcement ‘thing’ has affected traffic safety. For example, I have watched people completely ignore stop signs in residential areas, in a way that indicates that they live close to said stop sign and have decided to routinely ignore it.

    • Related to the point above, Interstate speeds have risen to a point where many people are driving outside their zone of competency, and outside the capabilities of their vehicle. (Even worse with bad road conditions or in poor weather.)

    • People who had been commuting on a regular basis and went to work-from-home got out of practice, so that when they were on the roads, their skills had deteriorated, plus they weren’t current on the ‘rule’ [way of doing things] changes.

    • Newer vehicles are more difficult to see out of (A-pillar, C-D pillars, B pillar while we’re at it), which leads to less awareness of what is happening around the driver. Combination of newer taller vehicles with older vehicles also leads to visibility issues (as a minor example, try pulling out of your parking spot safely when your old sedan is parked between two modern pickups).

    • Distractions everywhere. Driver training. Lack of general awareness.

    • Poorly-maintained and poorly-designed roads and signage. Terrible lane markings/layout in construction areas.

    • Huge disregard for pedestrian safety on the part of drivers and pedestrians.

    • General selfishness/all about me. Also failure to realize that this isn’t a video game and we don’t get a do-over. Lack of awareness of consequences.

    • Substances including legal ones (ex. psychotropic medications).

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      Now that you mention it, I hardly ever see anyone pulled over by the police any more. Back when I was starting out driving you lived in fear of “johnny law” and getting a ticket.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        That’s because liberals have made it a crime to stop someone who is breaking the law. Because, laws don’t matter and are racist.

        Many agencies in my state have put policies in place that state officers cannot pull people over for expired tabs or other minor things. This leads to more lawlessness and not finding drugs, guns, or warrants.

        • 0 avatar
          eiafuawn

          I didn’t see you add a /s at the end to indicate sarcasm on your post. In the event you forgot to add it, no big deal.

          If you truly meant what you wrote, while it’s still early in the morning where I live, I’m fairly confident you just wrote the dumbest thing I’m going to read today.

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            What part of what tool guy wrote is dumb? It’s a pretty solid analysis.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            @eiafuawn, you seem personally insulted by @EBFlex’s comment. Maybe he shouldn’t have used the word “liberals”, but should have written “progressives”. Would that be more acceptable to you?

        • 0 avatar
          ttacgreg

          “that’s because liberals have made it a crime to stop someone who is breaking the law. ” . . . Really??
          Are you 100% sure these agencies you’re talking about are “liberal”??? This sounds potentially libertarian to me. I can’t cite examples but certainly there are “conservative” law enforcement agencies that make policy decisions concerning selective law-enforcement as well.

        • 0 avatar
          Jeff S

          Here we go again more of this political crap.

      • 0 avatar

        I can tell you first hand that while police did not enforce much of anything during pandemic, that ticket writing, at least in non NYC New York, is back to normal and my V1G2 reads 34.7 a lot. Government needs the money. Pretty much zero tickets were written between March of 2020 and 2021, but they are back out now….toss in the fact at least in my area a lot of travel M-F 9-5 that can be mass transit is now at user’s discretion. 2x a week off peak times in office mean driving is possible now. Trust me, BLM or whatever hasn’t affected busts for 80/55 in my area.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Four more:

      • Went to Venezuela once – the ‘rules’ for driving there are completely different than the rules were in the U.S. at the time. Not right where I live, but one county over where my parents live (which county has always had questionable driving skills), some individuals have decided to go free-form and just do their own thing behind the wheel, Venezuela style. [Effect on safety is likely low incidence but high impact.] This is how my sister lost her beloved Sienna. (And gives my 82-year-old father something to dodge – his defensive driving skills have always been pretty high.)

      • Back when people grew up on farms, there was some basic general common understanding of basic real-world physics – including what could hurt you and how. Now that everyone lives in the virtual world people have limited understanding of mechanical ‘stuff’ and physics in general. (Tip: Many human body parts do not regenerate.)

      • Some people seem to believe when they purchase a new vehicle that it comes with a ‘highway pass’ which allows them unhindered progress through the rest of us, and they grow resentful of other people on the road. This is usually a nice-but-not-too-nice vehicle, say a GMC Acadia or a Ford Explorer. Very new, fairly clean, no fender damage (yet). They expect to have full access to the left lane in medium-heavy traffic (the rest of us should presumably pull off the road?). But at the same time, they won’t move over to let anyone pass them. (New car? Nice! You paid over sticker? I’m sorry. No, this is not an amusement park, and you didn’t get the Line Hopper Pass. Yes I know from lane discipline. Yes, I admire the Germans in this regard. But this is not ‘Nam – there are rules.)

      • Then you have a new breed – the Ultra-Entitled. This ranges from the European CUV with the state ‘Senate’ license plate in my neighborhood who doesn’t need to pause when pulling out of his driveway (even when other vehicles are approaching), to the luxury SUV doing 60 mph in the center lane of a five-lane 40-mph road (two lanes each way plus one center lane, paved all the way across, whatever we call that) in *heavy* (bumper-to-bumper) rush-hour traffic.

      [Back when I was first learning about driving, I would enjoy seeing the very occasional ‘black car’ choosing its own pace on a relatively clear Interstate. Once I saw a passenger wake up and motion to the female driving to hit it harder – which she quickly did (and she was moving pretty good before that). But there is a time and place.]

  • avatar
    AutoPatriot

    I wish more of the population was like me in a 6 speed! The drive will always keep you somewhat engaged to the road…

    I feel like with these modern cars and trucks, it’s hard to realize the weight/resources not only to maintain/Fuel but just to speed up and slow down. We have very diverse types of traffic and population so many factors.
    I’m not sure if better license testing is an answer hell it’s been about 20 years since I tested last.. Who knows, higher speed limits anyone? Modern roads modern car speeds very confusing when to flow with traffic you have to drive 70+ in a 55.

    I do feel like if everyone keeps this driving trend up those insurance companies will mandate GPS tracking for all customers.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      I do miss the driving experience I had with my 5 speed manual much more engaging and I found I paid more attention to my driving. Something about the rhythm and the feel of the shifting.

  • avatar
    hausjam

    iPhones are the easy answer. I am sure that’s a big part. I think another big reason is performance. It used to be if you wanted a stupid fast car, you had to BUILD it. Which more than likely meant you understood and respected it. Now any yahoo can drive off with no money down on a crossover that would embarrass most sports cars more than a couple decades old. And when going stupid fast is so easy, most folks don’t respect and fear it.

  • avatar
    ryant55

    Well, there is the pesky fact that the entire premise of the story is factually incorrect, but let’s not let that get in the way of an alarmist narrative:

    “The increase came as total US driving rose by 11.2% from 2020, or about 325 billion miles. NHTSA said the fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles traveled in 2021 decreased slightly to 1.33.”

  • avatar

    Since 2020 – lack of discipline, every-thing-goes attitude and lack of respect for law and order and police in society in general. There are signs of crumbing of civic society. There simply too many people who started to ignore rules. Because law enforcement is too soft.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Sadly, you may be right.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Even if law enforcement was tough you still have these idiot liberal DAs and idiot liberal judges that do not hold people accountable.

      Look at what happened after the Kim Potter accident. Many of the idiot liberal DAs, mayors, etc came out against pretextual stops and said they would not charge for expired tabs, etc. Liberal insanity.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Seriously….nobody is going to bring up the fact that the family truckster is now America’s favorite oversized and underworked fleet of pickups? No….it couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that family sedans have been replaced by the John Deere Chrome Edition at breakneck speed in the last few years. Since gas prices tanked, just about every American branded sedan was axed and America’s pickup truck companies decided we all needed to lug around a few thousand extra pounds everywhere we go in vehicles with such high ride heights there are 10 foot blind spots out in front of the hood…..probably more if you are short.
    Shockingly, there are more traffic deaths. Look at the new Hummer. Probably more than 50% of those will end up in the hands of an insecure man-boy looking to intimidate everyone else on the road. The thing weighs almost as much as a big rig and will be piloted the local village idiot as it is filling your rearview mirror trying to scare you out of its path. I think this article is doing a huge disservice by not even mentioning this country’s ever bloating fleet of vehicles. There have been several articles written on the phenomenon, the correlation is not difficult to grasp.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Road fatalities aren’t up 20% since 2019 because of people buying trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Do you have a source that you could point the author to that supports your claim that since 2019 trucks have caused an increase in traffic fatalities? Maybe if such a source existed he would have mentioned. He probably didn’t look up your @$$ though which is where you pulled that BS from near as I can tell thegamper.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Thankfully I don’t own an endoscope, but I can make the following observations without one:
        • Most trucks are heavier than most other vehicles on the road
        • More weight = more energy in a crash
        • Most trucks have a relatively high center of gravity (more unstable for maintaining control, worse for everyone else in a crash)
        • Many modern trucks get lifted higher than stock, which makes for an even higher center of gravity
        • Truck-to-car crash incompatibility was a thing years ago and is worse now
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crash_incompatibility
        • Many modern trucks have an outward visibility problem
        • Some modern truck drivers have a problem with aggressive driving

        While trucks aren’t the only thing, they likely play a role (in the wrong direction).

        If and when I feel like it I might do some further study. (I know you can’t wait.)

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “they likely play a role”

          Statistically, the safest driving year ever in the US was 2011. Trucks were plenty big, popular, and powerful that year as well.

          And again,”Trucks” does not at all explain the historically large increase in road fatalities going from 2019 to 2020 and from 2020 to 2021.

          One could argue that large trucks/SUVs create a high than necessary floor for traffic deaths, but that’s a different topic than Y-o-Y increases.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            My working hypothesis is that larger heavier vehicles constituted a larger % of total vehicle miles driven in the U.S. during the Pandemic than they did pre-Pandemic.

            Could be wrong – might look for data. (I am curious how you reached your conclusion of “does not at all explain.”)

            Also interested to examine the mix of trucks in 2021 vs. 2011.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Factory trucks have grown a few inches taller on average than they were in 2011, and that will show up in the pedestrian and cyclist fatality stats. The taller the vehicle, the more deadly it is, and the correlation is not small.

            With that said it’s just one of several factors behind the overall rise in danger.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I think larger, heavier vehicles are at a disadvantage when it comes to avoiding a crash – they aren’t very agile, so their drivers can’t stop or steer quite as well as they could in smaller vehicles. And when these heavier vehicles hit, they hit harder. Plus, you have all the other factors people have mentioned here – tech distractions, aggressive driving, and over-reliance on safety aids.

            Anecdotally, if I were going down the road doing 80, and the world turned to s**t before my very eyes, I think I’d have a better chance of avoiding disaster in my sedan than an F150.

            Is there any per capita data on the types of vehicles involved in these fatal crashes?

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Here’s something the IIHS put out in 2020 for model years 2015-2018.
            While large vehicles are less manuverable it doesn’t seem to translate to a greater risk of dying as the list of vehicles most likely to be involved in a fatality is dominated by subcompacts.

            iihs.org/api/datastoredocument/status-report/pdf/55/2

            However, motorcycles are by far the most dangerous. They make up 15% of deaths for about 1% of miles traveled.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @ArtV: Sorry that you feel that ‘the whole universe is against you’ and that all you have left ‘is your rage’. Perhaps a summer dedicated to sitting in a massaging chair will help you to find contentment? Just don’t go out and buy any cheap envelopes.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      To my point above:

      I know many folks moving to SUVs and Trucks due to potholes and bad roads. Fix the roads.

      I’m in this camp. I have a 2018 Mazda 6 in very good working order that I’m really considering trading in to get an SUV. Just too many potholes, both in the cities and county where I live here in N. Alabama.

      And this isn’t just an Alabama issue. I was in Nashville TN and there were potholes everywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      We have our own version of Mad Max with the over sized pickups and suvs.

  • avatar
    BobinPgh

    While cars are more crashworthy and safer than ever, I wonder if some of the speeding we see now is extreme. Earlier this year there was a story about a high school couple who were killed on the way to their prom in a compact sedan on a rural road. To be killed in a modern car they would have had to be going over 100 mph and it would have taken some distance to get there. They were T boned so not even a head on collision. Maybe no seat belt use? Anyway, if I had teenagers I would be driving them to prom, like my parents did.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    People had a lot of time to get even more addicted to their phones. Whether it’s heroin, nicotine, or the craving for a dopamine hit from the phone, it’s not rational to expect anyone in withdrawal to be able to avoid another dose.

    I live near a high school, and I truly believe that society is in serious trouble. And,get off my lawn!

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I live near several assisted living type places. Hell, I’m almost there the way I’m going physically. There are several older people who in no way should be allowed to drive, that are driving pretty much daily. One guy who was terrible in 2010 and 2012, when I tried unsuccessfully to get his kids to make him stop driving. “Oh, he drives ok!”, was the son’s response both times. No, if it takes him 15 minutes to park his car in a parking spot, if he drives on the wrong side of the seperate entrance and exits from where he lives. If he pulls out onto one of the busiest streets in town without looking or stopping first, he shouldn’t be driving. And that was 12 years ago! He was pretty much a solo act back then, now there are a half dozen others along the same road.

    Between the agressive pinheads, drunk/high drivers, the people playing on their phones, or messing with the touchscreen stuff on their cars, I’m not shocked the death rates are increasing.

    My latest experience with an agressive driver was last week when I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment. A guy in a dinged up black Scion X80 was on my ass so close I couldn’t see his front end at all. He shot back and forth, trying to go around the truck in the lane next to me. Finally, he blew through an intersection IN THE LEFT TURN LANE, and got past us. He turned off as I was about to call 911 on him. I went to the doctor’s and on the way home, I was truly shocked when I saw him again, this time with his GF/wife in the passenger seat, pulling out ahead of me. Almost immediately, he got blocked by traffic going the speed limit and began his lane changing and tailgating the cars in front of him. When they had to stop at a light, they kissed a couple of times, and then did another dumb move, blowing through the left turn lane that had the green arrow, getting pretty close to losing control when he shot back into the travel lane heading north. The speed limit was 40, I would say he was doing 60+. For once, the first time in a long long time, a Toledo PD car was sitting in a parking lot, and the cop got to see him fishtail all over. He lit him up and pulled him over. As I passed the cop, I gave him a thumbs up, and as I passed the Scion idiot, laughing, he was banging on the steering wheel, “Good job!”. I hope he had enough points to get suspended, but that doesn’t seem to stop many people from driving.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      NRD>>>.
      I would have pulled over and told the cop about all the other infractions you witnessed. Officers typically give people breaks. Only stroke 1 ticket when he could write up 3-4 or more.
      Maybe you speaking up would induce the officer to stroke the scumbag a few more.
      PS- was she hot? I ve found in life, hotties love scumbags. I dont get it.

    • 0 avatar
      psychoboy

      what’s a scion x80?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    People are more angry and stressed than I’ve anecdotally seen in my lifetime. Add in selfishness, 40,000,000 of us on anti depressants, a general lack of attentiveness when driving, and of course big screens begging for our attention to change tracks or volume. Buying ads to get more people to ride the bus won’t help. Taking lanes away to build bike lanes won’t help.

    Addressing mental health might help, especially as how it relates to driving.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I hate that Governor’s “vision” on how to fix the problem…but as someone who commuted in hell for over a decade by car, here’s my take:

    1. Phones – whether calls, texts, or fussing with Spotify, they are a distraction. Texters behind the wheel are very easy to spot and they are a menace.
    2. Infotainment systems require the taking the focus off the road. As the OP states, buttons and knobs become second nature without having to scroll through screens that take your eyes off the road to do what used to be a simple task.
    3. The explosion of oversize, overweight, overheight vehicles creating a hazard for those in cars. This is harder to blame directly as the fleet mix didn’t magically change during these reporting periods, but the risk has been growing over the years. As the driver of a sports car, I feel that I could be pancaked by even a garden-variety F 150.
    4. Congestion has been increasing, especially in areas where people have shunned mass transit because of the pandemic. This increases frustration and anger which in turn increases the odds of risk-taking or the venting of your frustration behind the wheel.

    I’d lay much of the blame on these factors. Traffic “calming” measures will only exacerbate the problem – slowing traffic on purpose just makes things worse. Adding snooping equipment in cars is probably the worst solution I’ve ever heard.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    More people are driving like a-holes. Last night, my two younger daughter (20 and 17) were in the drive-thru at Jack In The Box last night, waiting behind someone else, and the guy in the RAM truck behind my daughters starts laying on the horn – and the people in the kitchen weren’t even going slow. The car in front of my daughters gets his food and leaves, my daughter pulls up to the window, then a-hole guy starts laying on the horn again.

    When my daughters get their stuff and pull out, a-hole pulls out too (skips getting his food), then pulls up behind them at a stop sign, and lays on the horn again. My daughter said she didn’t wait the customary two seconds (it was about 10:30, no traffic), because she was afraid he was going to rear end her.

    People have lost their minds!

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “While technically an automotive safety initiative, the funds have been earmarked primarily for things like adding bike lanes, widening sidewalks, and attempting to convince car-owning commuters to switch to public transit.”

    More bike lanes and wider sidewalks will only make traffic worse, as it decreases the lane-miles available for cars. More bicycles mixing with cars? Death Race 2000, here we come!

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    During the summer of 2020, we learned that breaking the law is A-OK as long as you’re doing it to honor the memory of St. George of Minneapolis. We have laws against pulling people out of their vehicles and beating them senseless, setting fire to buildings and vehicles, breaking windows and looting stores, but people did these things and more with impunity, because it was for Social Justice, or Equity, or Something.

    I don’t want to beat people up, set fires, or steal things, but I do want to get where I’m going without undue delay. So I drive 35 through the school zone if no kids are present, turn right on red if it’s safe to do so (even if the sign says NO TURN ON RED), treat STOP signs as YIELD signs, etc., and I do these things without guilt or penalty, now that we’ve defunded the police. I do sometimes say, “This one’s for you, St. George!” You know – so it’s morally OK to break the laws I don’t like.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      That’s not correct, Matt. There are any number of folks doing time for doing illegal stuff during the George Floyd riots.

      https://www.mprnews.org/story/2022/01/07/brooklyn-park-man-is-latest-to-be-sentenced-for-2020-riots

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Well duh…they were mostly peaceful

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      “ During the summer of 2020, we learned that breaking the law is A-OK as long as you’re doing it to honor the memory of St. George of Minneapolis.”

      I never understood destroying cities across the country because someone died of a narcotic overdose. 2020 was a strange time.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Most of the comments here do a good job explaining things, deaths are up due to todays poor car designs (big pillars, trucks/suvs too tall), our moronic urban road design, phone, vape, drugs, other distractions.

    Then you have todays adhd-narccistic-fueled culture where everyone is special and unique and everyone should move aside for your Toyota, because its a Jeep thing.

    On a side note, me driving an ex cop vehicle does nothing to change peoples behavior. I still get passed in urban areas while doing the speed limit.

  • avatar
    gasser

    I live in Los Angeles. IMHO the 2 problems are degradation of driving skills during the pandemic and cell phones. My neighbor just totaled her NEW Tesla type Y, freely admitting she was texting while driving. One can no longer drive in the rightmost lane of multi-lane streets, because drivers entering from side streets stop2 or 3 feet into my lane on the main road: I can then stop, switch lanes (into an occupied lane) or collide with the nitwit. I haven’t seen a cop ticketing anyone for over a year!!

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    The increasing cost of driving should get some of the worst offenders and their $#!+boxes off of the road. Can’t happen fast enough in my opinion. The busses they will find themselves on have trained drivers.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    There have been plenty of DOCUMENTED ACCIDENTS that made the News where I live that proved cellphones were the cause of the accident. It’s not hard to correlate cell phone activity after an accident to see what one was doing just prior. It’s all there…you just have to subpoena it.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    I’m old enough to remember some controversy of having cell phone conversations in cars. The line of thought was that you cannot pay attention to driving when your mind is actively engaging in the content of a conversation with somebody.

    Now look at what we have between the cell phone distractions and the overly complex and visually demanding operational controls in modern cars.

    It would be interesting if there could be statistical discernment of accident rates for basic old-fashioned cars with buttons knobs and dials and very little to offer in terms of any kind of social distraction compared to modern cars with all the bells and whistles and complex interactive controls.

    Confession here I do text in my two modern vehicles but here’s the catch, it’s an iPhone and I can text verbally via Siri. “hey Siri read that last message” and “Hey Siri, text so-and-so”.

    Another confession here yes I do take my eyes off the road a lot more than I used to because I’m squinting at all the information that my two contemporary cars offer up. Part of the problem is small fonts and dim displays. Toyota apparently expects me to see what my cruise control setting is via a font that’s about 4 mm tall at an arm’s distance.

  • avatar
    TheMrFreeze

    Seems to me that there are multiple reasons…people being stressed out due the pandemic, poor UI designs in modern cars requiring too much visual attention from the driver, the epidemic of people screwing with cellphones while driving, “automated” driving systems that don’t work work a damn, and the size/speed of modern cars. Put somebody in a giant tank of an SUV with a 5 second 0-60 time and they start feeling invincible.

    Ya wanna fix the problem? Don’t make cars safer…make them LESS safe. You take away everybody’s big fast SUV with crumple zones and 15 airbags and stick them all in a ’66 VW Beetle and you’ll see people suddenly being a WHOLE lot safer on the roads. And the ones who aren’t? Well, Darwinism will take care of them.

    And I’m only being half-sarcastic about that last paragraph…

  • avatar
    BOJO

    Many comments hit the nail on the head… further details:
    1. Smart phones & car touch screens distract drivers.
    2. Lockdown degraded attention span & response times & advanced addictions
    3. Increased # of foreigners who learned to drive at 25+ years old.
    4. Fewer people actively engaged in driving and traffic situation.

    Roads didn’t change in 18 months so the articles “roads designed for speed instead of safety” is total BS from Alfred E Neuman transportation czar.

    And the reason for the article…
    Governors (GHSA)… solution… track the behavior and location of individual drivers… (having) undesirable actions. Police… remotely disable the automobile and have their way with the occupants. Hence the need for computer controlled electric cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Stanley Steamer

      Even worse, increased # of foreigners who learned to drive in their native country, where red lights and stop signs are suggestions. I’ve seen a rash of folks treating red lights like stop signs, and stop signs like nothing was ever there.

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    For all the people blaming cell phones as the chief cause, my question is why we never saw a sizable increase in per capita fatalities between 1996 and 2014?

    If cell phone use has really done a number on safety, why did it take until 2015 for us to see a major dip in fatal accidents? Wouldn’t it have taken place in the midst of cell phones (and then smart phones) entering mainstream use?

    Phone use while driving is absolutely abhorrent and undoubtedly contributes the the problem. But I’m not seeing the kind of data that would back it up as being the main factor.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      well the cell phone in its modern form factor didn’t really take off until the iPhone, which was introduved in 2007. Even then it took some time for touchscreens and non T9 texting to grab hold. Prior to that if you used your phone it was likely just to talk on. In 1996 you may have been more likely to have a car mounted phone than a pocketable cell phone.

      Bottom line, you can do much more with your phone now than you could even 10 years ago. Not that I have any data there, but it wouldn’t shock me as phones have really evolved in that time.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      “ For all the people blaming cell phones as the chief cause, my question is why we never saw a sizable increase in per capita fatalities between 1996 and 2014?”

      Because blaming the phone is absurd (while ignoring all of the other forms of distraction present in vehicles today).

      Those that only blame the phone seem to ignore the large screens in the dash, the passengers in the car, day dreaming, and the endless other factors that play into this.

      Much like the endless amount of shootings around the world, nobody wants to focus on the real issue. It’s not guns, it’s mental health. But that’s not a quick and easy fix that our sub human politicians can campaign on. Same thing here. It’s clearly not the cell phone but discovering the root cause is hard. So we blame the cell phone because it’s easy.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    What I’m seeing around here is dangerous potholes. 40-65mph roads with large potholes that can force a car in a different direction or damage a car. It’s gotten so bad that on a 55mph steep downhill grade, I saw one car try to miss a pot hole that was fairly deep and long almost head on collie with another car while trying to miss the potholes.

    Cities/counties either need to reduce the speed limits on roads they refuse to fix or fix the dang roads.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    On a side note, I love the video that was going around that shows a police traffic stop of a spoiled rich kid. The rich kid threatens the cop with, “Do you know who my father is?” The officer replies, ” No. I don’t. Your mother never told you?”

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    Some observations from my recent drive from Nova Scotia to Florida and back in April…

    – Average speeds increase as you move southward, while average driving skill decreases in proportion.
    – Leaving an adequate following distance while travelling at 85 mph is an invitation for two cars to move into said space.
    – State troopers will not go after anyone for anything less than someone going 100mph+, and sometimes not even then.
    – Twice on the way home I witnessed a pair of Fast & Furious wannabees using all three lanes (and part of an off-ramp in one case) to zig-zag through traffic at well over 100mph. Three were Honda Civics, and the other was an SUV! How the SUV didn’t cause a 20-car pileup I’ll never know. One of the Hondas almost took out my rear bumper as he cut across the road from the passing lane to the slow lane (I was in the middle lane).
    – Many times, despite the ‘no trucks in left lane’ rule, we would be subjected to the rolling roadblock of one 18-wheeler passing another at a glacial pace.
    – Closest call of all was a small deer that managed to jump over the guardrail directly into the passing lane I was in. Brakes worked…although some drinks were spilled, the deer jumped away to safety. If there had been anyone behind me we would have been hit because I scrubbed off about 70mph as fast as physics allowed. Pure luck.

    Florida was nice, although I don’t have key fob that works any more thanks to an accidental dunking at Cocoa Beach!

  • avatar
    buzzyrpm

    City and street design in the US makes the majority of roads extremely dangerous. Particularly when there is less traffic and driver speeds can go up. Lots of cross streets instead of roundabouts. Multi-lane high speed streets not separated from in and out ramps to strip malls. And the list goes on. Checkout the YouTube channel “not just bikes” for a lot of great info on this subject.

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