Why are Traffic Fatalities So High?
Preliminary data suggests that traffic deaths in the United States dropped slightly in 2022 versus 2021. But, both numbers and rates remain high compared with prior years. That’s bad news, but standing alone it’s not especially useful. Solving the problem on a larger scale and individual steps to protect yourself, your family, and those around you on the road requires a closer look at traffic fatality trends.
What Changed in 2022?
Some of the key shifts in who is killed in traffic accidents, how those accidents occur, and where those accidents happen include:
An Increase In Rural Traffic Fatalities
Motor vehicle accident deaths made up a larger share of total traffic fatalities in the first half of 2022. These fatalities also increased significantly in raw numbers. Fatalities on rural interstates jumped by 12%, and deaths on rural collector and local roads were up 9%.
Though none of these variables is new, we do have some information about why rural roads may be more dangerous. These include:
- Poorer infrastructure in terms of road design, lighting, and other safety measures
- The risk of distraction or road hypnosis on long stretches of rural highway
- A higher likelihood that drivers and passengers are not wearing seatbelts on rural roads
- Difficulty in enforcing speed limits and other traffic safety regulations
Efforts are underway to reduce some of these risks, such as a recent successful experiment in reducing speeds on a rural road. Finding the right solutions and implementing them throughout Massachusetts and around the country will take time. But, drivers can make themselves and others on the road safer by taking note of the increased risk and taking common sense steps like reducing speed and remaining attentive on rural roads.
An Increase in Pedestrian, Bicyclist and Motorcyclist Fatalities
While traffic deaths overall declined slightly, those outside vehicles didn’t fare as well. Projected increases in fatalities for 2022 include:
- A 2% increase in pedestrian fatalities
- A 5% increase in motorcyclist fatalities
- An 8% increase in bicyclist fatalities
These three categories face similar risks in sharing space with cars, trucks, and other large, heavy vehicles. Massachusetts, like many states, is working on solutions to make pedestrians and bicyclists safer. But, like the risks on rural roads discussed above, the risk to pedestrians, cyclists and bikers on the road can be mitigated by everyone involved. That means drivers being more alert for these higher-risk people on the road and avoiding distractions. It also means pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists should make an effort to remain visible, occupy safe space and stay alert.
Fatalities Have Increased Among Middle-Aged and Older Drivers
Historically, the highest number and percentage of traffic fatalities involved people aged 34 and under. That made sense, since younger drivers tend to be less experienced behind the wheel, and teens and young adults are still developing judgment and impulse control.
In the preliminary data for 2022, every age group from 35-44 and up saw an increase in traffic fatalities. The 45-54 age group saw the smallest increase, at 1%. Traffic deaths among those aged 55-64 increased by 4% and fatalities among those 65 and older jumped by 8%. Meanwhile, younger drivers saw a slight decrease.
There’s no clear explanation for the increase in middle-aged and older drivers dying on the road. However, some of the increase may be attributable to pandemic-era bad habits that have persisted. Regardless of the cause, standard strategies like avoiding distractions, observing speed limits and traffic signals, and maintaining a safe following distance will always help reduce the risk of a fatal motor vehicle accident.
Help for Massachusetts Traffic Crash Victims
You’ve probably noticed that nearly all of the car accident variables mentioned above involve someone doing something wrong. That may mean distracted driving, speeding, faulty road design, poor vehicle maintenance or one of many other negligent actions.
The responsible party may be another driver, a vehicle manufacturer, the entity responsible for road maintenance, a negligent driver’s employer, or someone else. If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident or have lost a loved one to a traffic crash, an experienced Massachusetts car accident lawyer can be your best resource.
Attorney Kevin P. Broderick has been fighting for fair compensation for victims of motor vehicle accidents for decades. He serves people who were injured or lost loved ones in traffic crashes in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Kevin knows how important it is for car accident victims to have early access to information and guidance about who may be responsible for the crash, how to protect their rights, how to avoid insurance company traps and more. That’s why he offers free consultations to injury victims. To learn more, call 978-459-3085 right now, or fill out the contact form on this site.
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