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Auto Accidents

NHTSA Data Shows Traffic Fatalities Increased During the Pandemic

By June 21, 2021July 1st, 2021No Comments

As pandemic restrictions are easing across the country, we are just beginning to understand the multiple ways in which this unprecedented event reshaped our lives. In early June 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released preliminary data regarding traffic fatalities during 2020. Although there were fewer drivers on the road in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of traffic fatalities jumped by 7.2 percent from 2019—hitting the highest number of fatalities since 2007. Let’s take a closer look at some key takeaways from this preliminary data.

Fewer Drivers, But More Risky Behaviors

According to the report, the total number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) fell by 13.2 percent between 2019 and 2020. However, the fatality rate increased from 1.11 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2019 to 1.37 per 100 million VMT in 2020. Drivers who took to the road in 2020 were more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as speeding, driving while impaired, and failing to wear a seatbelt. As a result, more crashes occurred that involved more serious (and sometimes fatal) injuries. 

Increase in Multiple Crash Factors During 2020

So far, the NHTSA has identified several trends in the types of crashes that took place in 2020 as compared to previous years. For instance, while the number of traffic fatalities involving pedestrians held steady from 2019 through 2020, fatal crashes involving passenger vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, and bicycle riders all rose by at least 5 percent. Additionally, the number of crashes involving occupant rejection rose by 20 percent, while the number of speeding-related crashes increased by 11 percent. In general, riskier behaviors appeared to contribute to this rise in fatal auto accidents.

Keeping the Future Bright for Washington and Oregon Drivers

While the bulk of this recently released data trended upward in several categories, there are still a few areas that offer hope. For instance, the number of fatal accidents involving large trucks (both commercial and non-commercial) fell slightly during 2020, and fatalities among those aged 65 and over are projected to decline by 9 percent. As we move forward, it’s important to practice safe driving behaviors and seek medical attention as soon as possible when an accident occurs. Enlisting the support of a trusted Portland and Vancouver personal injury attorney can help you obtain the compensation you need to get your life back on track.


If you need help collecting compensation following an auto accident in the Portland or Vancouver area, call the compassionate and trusted personal injury attorneys at Henderson Taylor Law Firm today at (360) 737-1478.

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