Motor Vehicle Accident Deaths Jumped 8% Nationwide in 2020, 9% in Texas
Traffic accident fatalities rose 8% across the nation in 2020, even as total miles driven fell sharply during last year’s pandemic-related shutdowns.
The spike was even higher in Texas, with motor vehicle deaths rising by 9% across the Lone Star State.
Motor Vehicle Crashes Killed 42,060 People in 2020
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 42,060 people are estimated to have died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020.
The preliminary estimated rate of death on the roads spiked 24% over the previous 12-month period, despite miles driven dropping by 13%. That’s the highest estimated year-over-year jump calculate by the NSC since 1924.
“It is tragic that in the U.S., we took cars off the roads and didn’t reap any safety benefits,” said NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin. “These data expose our lack of an effective roadway safety culture. It is past time to address roadway safety holistically and effectively, and NSC stands ready to assist all stakeholders, including the federal government.”
Texas Traffic Accidents Killed More than 3,890 in 2020
At least 3,891 people died in Texas motor vehicle accidents last year, up from 3,586 in 2019. Eight states experienced more than a 15% increase in the estimated number of deaths:
- Arkansas (+26%)
- Connecticut (+22%)
- District of Columbia (+33%)
- Georgia (+18%)
- Mississippi (+19%)
- Rhode Island (+26%)
- South Dakota (+33%)
- Vermont (+32%).
Nationwide, another 4.8 million people were seriously injured in crashes in 2020, with an estimated cost to society of $474 billion.
NHTSA Blames Risky Behaviors for 2020 Spike in Traffic Deaths
While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to issue final accident statistics for 2020, the agency’s preliminary estimate for the first nine months of the year showed a similar trend. The NHTSA report also placed much of the blame on risky driving behaviors, noting that:
- Average vehicle speeds in major metropolitan areas rose 22% in 2020.
- 65% of drivers treated at trauma centers after serious accidents had drugs or alcohol in their systems last year compared to 50.6% before the pandemic.
- Double the average number of people were thrown from vehicles during crashes, suggesting more weren’t wearing seatbelts.
“If you fail to obey the speed limit, to wear your seat belt, and to drive sober, your risk for a crash, and a fatal one at that, goes up,” the NHTSA stated in an open letter to the nation’s drivers. “The law enforcement and EMS community across the country have made your road safety a priority—but they are already stretched thin and at risk. Please do not further burden them with your poor driving choices.”
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