U.S. traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high last year as more motorists returned to the road after a drop off in driving at the start of the pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reports. Nearly 43,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2021, an 11 percent increase over 2020 and the highest number of traffic fatalities since 2005, according to the U.S. Transportation Department. It was the largest percentage rise ever recorded by the National Traffic Safety Administration.
Vehicle miles traveled by drivers in 2021 increased by 11 percent compared with the previous year. Multivehicle crashes that resulted in deaths increased by 16 percent in 2021 from a year ago. Pedestrian deaths rose 13 percent, and bicyclist fatalities increased five percent. An increase in dangerous driving, including speeding and alcohol-impaired driving, wiped out more than a decade’s worth of progress in reducing traffic crashes, injuries and deaths, said Russ Martin of the Governors Highway Safety Association.