Car Crash Fatalities Rise in 2020 & 2021

After decreasing from 55,000 per year in 2007 to 36,000 in 2019, the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2020 there was a marked increase in U.S. car crash fatalities.

Federal safety studies show that in 2020 there were 38,680 deaths on U.S. roadways last year, the most since 2007 even though pandemic precautions had dramatically reduced driving. Causes of fatal accidents underscore the preventable behavior leading to these tragic deaths:

  • Speeding.  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Data shows that in 2020 average speeds increased in 2020, and extreme speeds, those 20 miles per hour (or more) higher than the posted speed limit, became more common. Safety data collected by f data from fatal crashes that show an estimated 11% increase in speeding-related fatalities. One frightening consequence of the increase in speeding is the concomitant increase in Pedestrian injuries and deaths.
  • Fewer people in crashes used their seat belts. Statistics correlating medical services findings show that paramedics during the Pandemic have recorded a marked increase in passenger and driver ejections from vehicles involved in serious injuries.  This despite widespread seatbelt mandates, driver training requiring seat belt use and improvements in restraint systems, dating back over sixty years.
  • NHTSA funded research underscored the prevalence of alcohol and other drugs in accidents causing of the serious injuries and fatalities where two-thirds of the drivers tested positive for at least one active drug, including alcohol, marijuana, or opioids.
  • NHTSA’s research also reported the proportion of drivers testing positive for opioids nearly doubled after mid-March 2020, compared to the previous 6 months, while marijuana prevalence increased by about 50%.

“Continuation of Research on Traffic Safety During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: January – June 2021,” DOT NHTSA Pub. #HS 813 210 Behavioral Safety Research October 2021

The Los Angeles Times conducted an interdisciplinary study to determine why the pandemic has made U.S. drivers more reckless — more likely to speed, drink or use drugs and leave their seatbelts unbuckled. See, Baumgaertner & Mitchell, “Car crash deaths have surged during COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s why,” LA Times, (DEC. 8, 2021) The study searched for the reasons why more Americans were driving at excessive speeds, and/or without wearing seatbelts, driving drunk, high, stoned, or while on opioids. The authors interviewed psychologists and safety experts. Who concluded that pervasive recklessness on the road is likely a reflection of Pandemic-related feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression.

Colorado roadway accident statistics follow national trends

The Colorado Department of Transportation is responsible for statistical reporting of Colorado roadway safety. Recently, CDOT reported that if current trends continue, 2021 will be the deadliest year on Colorado roads since 2004. To date, there have been 617 fatalities, a finding 6% higher than this time last year. Fatalities involving an impaired driver are up 15% in 2021 over 2020. And this marked increase in roadway fatalities comes against a statewide decrease in miles driven due to Pandemic-related closures and work-from-home decisions by Coloradoans.

According to the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) in a widely covered press conference on November 23, 2021, there is an alarming upward trend of fatal crashes across Colorado in 2021. CDOT and CSP have concluded the fatalities in Colorado have similar causes to those evidenced in the national study: speeding, drug and alcohol use, misuse, or non-use of seatbelts. According to data released by the CSP, fatal crashes involving drugs and alcohol rose 10% in November 2021, compared to November 2020. Injury-related crashes involving drugs and alcohol increased 36.5% during the same time.

CSP has stepped up DUI patrols on roadways with particularly high injury and fatality records.

Denver’s Top Injury Attorneys

Chalat Hatten and Banker has extensive experience in representing victims of roadway accidents.  We are a leader in developing electronic evidence from at-fault drivers’ phones and electronic data recorders embedded in most cars manufactured since 2011.  In accidents involving heavy trucks, we have developed systems for interpreting semi-truck navigation recorders and NTSB regulated drivers’ logs to demonstrate speeding, maintenance deficiencies and excessive hours. Our wide network of experts, proficiencies and experience in medical evidence, all contribute to our success records on behalf of our clients. 

If you have been involved in a serious injury or a loved one has sustained a fatal injury in a car, motorcycle, and or truck accident, please give us a call, make an inquiry on our web-based platforms,  and we will respond right away.