All across America, fatal car accidents are increasing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. An estimated 46,000 people lost their lives in an automobile-related accident in 2021.
This number is even higher than in 2020, which saw roughly 42,000 accident deaths. 2020 was the first time in three years that the number of car accident fatalities increased.
The road can be a very dangerous place, and Americans rely on their cars to get them to work or school every day. You need to know how to protect yourself and your family while you drive.
Read on to learn why fatal car accident fatalities are increasing and what you can do to stay safe.
Why Are Car Accidents Increasing?
Despite driving fewer miles than in previous years, the number of Americans involved in car accidents increased in 2020 and 2021. This baffled officials at first, but more information has come to light.
More Risky Behavior
Many blame side-effects from the pandemic for the rise in fatal car accidents. It altered the way everyone lives their lives, and some engaged in more risky behavior due to being forced to live through a global pandemic.
More people than ever engage in speeding, driving under the influence, and driving without a seat belt. This naturally leads to a rise in accident fatalities.
Why these behaviors are increasing could relate to the way people felt during the pandemic. Many felt trapped in their homes and thought being forced to live through a global pandemic could excuse these behaviors.
This change of psychology is reflected in society at large. The usage rates of drugs and alcohol are higher than pre-pandemic numbers.
Some also feel that risky driving practices allowed some Americans to relieve stress during the hardest months of pandemic-related lockdowns.
All of this adds up to a much higher number of car accident fatalities.
Fewer Cars on the Road
With most people forced to stay at home during 2020 and 2021, there were fewer cars on the road than ever before. Many freeways, especially in the rural areas hit hardest by rising accident fatalities, were wide open.
This is another reason for the increased amount of speeders. With more room to drive, people drove faster than before.
Speed plays an important role in the severity of car accidents. When one is traveling at a high rate of speed, accidents are much more likely to be fatal. This has to do with the amount of energy generated in a car crash.
In the past few years, police haven’t been enforcing road laws as rigidly as before. As a result, more people feel like they can get away with things that would previously earn them a traffic violation.
The decreased amount of traffic stops had to do with limiting officers’ interaction with the public. It was an effort to protect the health of law enforcement officials.
How law enforcement will respond to these deadly car accidents remains to be seen. However, you can expect the number of officers on the road to increase in an attempt to put a stop to the rising accident rates.
American Roads Are Notoriously Unsafe
With miles of highways and near-endless suburban sprawl, the infrastructure in the U.S. lends itself to being particularly unsafe for drivers and pedestrians.
All across the country, the streets pedestrians and bicyclists are forced to share the road with cars traveling more than 30 miles per hour. Along these roads are numerous curves, bends, and stopping points, which are bound to create accidents.
To make matters worse, these roads are lined with shops, restaurants, and other attractions. People crowd these places that put them close to cars and the dangers of the road.
Protecting Yourself From Car Accidents
Navigating American roadways has become increasingly dangerous, but you can take action to protect yourself and your loved ones. It’s more important now than ever before.
The best way to avoid accidents and stay safe while behind the wheel of a car is to always pay attention while you drive. Distracted driving claims more than 3,000 lives per year.
This means always focusing on the road. Keep your cell phone in your pocket or purse and avoid eating or drinking while cruising down the freeway.
Also, you should never under any circumstances drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition to being highly illegal, these substances rob you of your ability to focus.
Wear Your Seatbelt
Riding in the front seat of a car without a seatbelt is illegal in almost any circumstance. Seatbelts really do save lives, and airbags are not enough to prevent serious injuries or death.
As the driver, it’s also your responsibility to ensure that your passengers are also buckled up safely. If you have children, make sure they’re seated in an appropriately-sized car seat. Seatbelts won’t properly secure a small child without one.
Practice Defensive Driving
Obeying all posted traffic laws is a great way to stay safe on the road, but you may leave yourself vulnerable if you expect all other drivers to do the same. Defensive driving is an invaluable practice to reduce your risk of getting into an accident.
Defensive driving means exercising foresight while behind the wheel. You actively consider other drivers and plan for what they might do. Always look down cross-streets before turning and leave room to stop when pulling up to an intersection.
Keep Your Car in Good Condition
You could be the best driver on the road, always paying attention, wearing your seat belt, and driving defensively, but all that could be for nothing if you blow a tire or can’t clear your windshield.
Before you drive, always check your car. Make sure you have air in your tires and appropriate levels of oil and wiper fluid.
Stay Safe: Fatal Car Accidents are Increasing
Many officials cite the pandemic as why fatal car accidents are increasing. People are engaging in more risk-taking behavior and the lack of cars on the road led to faster driving habits.
Protect yourself and your family by staying attentive while behind the wheel, wearing a seatbelt, and maintaining defensive driving habits.
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