The U.S. saw a spike in car accident fatalities in 2020 and 2021. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 42,915 people are projected to have died in motor vehicle accidents across the country in 2021. This is a 10.5% increase from 2020’s fatalities. Notably, this is the highest number of fatalities the U.S. has seen since 2005.
Where Maryland falls
While Maryland was no exception to this in 2020, in 2021, the state saw a nearly 3% decline in car accident fatalities. According to the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), the state saw 573 fatalities in 2020 and 557 fatalities in 2021. However, given that there were 535 fatalities in 2019, Maryland is still experiencing a significant increase from pre-pandemic levels. Fatalities include drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.
What is causing the increase in fatalities?
Speeding, reckless driving and impaired driving continue to be the biggest contributors to crashes in Maryland, as well as across the country. MDOT outlined in detail the top causes contributing to fatal crashes, based on results from a recent survey:
- Speeding and reckless driving: About 40% of drivers admitted to speeding on highways and/or residential streets.
- Disregarding pedestrian and cyclist safety: More than half of respondents remarked that they do not feel safe in crosswalks.
- Seat belt usage: 5% of respondents remarked that they do not always wear a seat belt.
- Distracted driving: This contributed to more than 30% of Maryland crashes, yet 40-60% of respondents admitted to several distractions.
- Impaired driving: This has contributed to more than 800 crashes in Maryland since 2016. 3% of respondents admitted to recently driving impaired.
What’s happening in 2022?
As of September 1, 2022, Maryland has reported 350 fatalities. While this data is preliminary, it does signal that fatalities may be decreasing across the state. In the meantime, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike should practice safe and defensive behaviors out on the roads to protect themselves and others.