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2020’s Traffic Fatalities Reach the Highest Point in 13 Years

An overhead view of a highway with traffic safety signs

We all know that 2020 was a tough year in general, and the roads were no exception to this fact. The National Safety Council (NSC) released preliminary data that shows a national 8% increase in fatal motor vehicle crashes from 2019 to 2020. With stay-at-home orders and miles driven on the road dropping by 13%, traffic fatalities still rose and an estimated 4.8 million people were seriously injured.

 

Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of NSC, said that three chief behaviors contribute to these crashes:

  • 47% of passenger vehicle occupants killed in motor vehicle crashes were unbelted
  • 28% of people who died perished in alcohol-impaired wrecks
  • 26% of motor vehicle fatalities were speed-related

The same basic problems persistently cause fatalities on the road. It doesn’t matter how many people are on the road; safety is a vital part we all can play when driving the roadways. Respecting and monitoring speeds, obeying traffic signs and safety measures, and avoiding distractions while driving are just some of the actions we can take.

State By State

In their report, the NSC provided state-by-state data on the traffic fatalities and injuries that were on the road in 2020. Eight states, including D.C., had an increase of deaths by more than 15%, while motor-vehicle deaths decreased in nine states total: Hawaii, Wyoming, Delaware, Nebraska, Idaho, New Mexico, Alaska, Maine, and North Dakota.

 

“It is tragic that in the U.S., we took cars off the roads and didn’t reap any safety benefits,” said Lorraine M. Martin. “This data exposes 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.”

Safety Measures

So, what can we do? Beyond obeying traffic safety signs, there are so many other things that drivers and pedestrians can do, mitigating deaths and serious injuries on the roadways.

Night Driving

Normal risks on the road increase in the dark, and while most drivers are used to driving at night, we often don’t take into consideration the dangers involved. Basic steps like properly maintaining your headlights and vehicle, cleaning and properly adjusting your mirrors, and exercising proper caution are crucial. Less-known steps can be just as important. Take eye problems seriously. Don’t be a hero; if you’re drowsy, pull over and take a break from driving. Impaired and distracted driving is arguably the most important factor in traffic fatalities and injuries. Put the phone down. Don’t drink or smoke while driving. Alcohol is obvious, but smoke can impair vision, especially at night.

Road Safety Equipment

For road workers and construction companies, having the proper road safety equipment and PPE for workers can make all the difference. Protecting your work zone with crash attenuators are not only often required by law but can save lives from errant driving and reckless roadway behavior. Because of the unpredictable nature of work sites on the roads, this is not the time to cut corners or costs. Invest in quality and effective equipment.

Motorcycle Awareness

A motorcyclist pulled over on the side of a mountain highway

As summer nears, more motorcyclists will appear on the road. May is National Motorcycle Awareness Month, however, drivers should always have an eye open for these users on the road. Motorcyclists are roughly 3% of registered vehicles on the road, but in 2017, they accounted for 14% of roadway deaths. If you’re a rider, wear a helmet, take a motorcycle safety course, and assume you are invisible and drive more defensively. It is a two-way street to keep motorcyclists safe on the roads.

Interwest Safety’s Goal to Keep Drivers Safe

At Interwest Safety, we’ve made it our mission to keep the roads safe for all. Founded in 1977, Interwest Safety Supply proudly serves a variety of customers, both public and private. From highway construction companies to government entities and private industries, our customers can rent and buy a variety of roadway safety products. As we like to say, “everything for the roadway except the road.” Contact our experts today to see how we can make the roads in your community safer.

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