A surge in road traffic accidents and the number of deaths in such accidents was observed in the United States after the pandemic began. This trend continued into 2021, and especially during the first six months of the year, from January to June. In fact, the U.S. recorded the highest number of road traffic deaths in six months of 2021 as it has in the past 15 years.
In the first half of 2021, a whopping 20,160 deaths were caused due to road traffic accidents. This is a massive 18.4% increase from the same period the previous year. This increase has been termed as a ‘crisis’ by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. He went further to say that, “more than 20,000 people died on U.S. roads in the first six months of 2021, leaving countless loved ones behind. We cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply a part of everyday life in America.”
Transportation and law enforcement agencies are working hard to reduce this increasing death toll. They plan on taking appropriate action to control this problem and have even managed to reduce death numbers in years before the pandemic. However, after the lockdown ended, the numbers showed a drastic spike due to the negligence of many individuals on the roads.
Many factors have led to this post lockdown increase in the number of road deaths. Lately, people have become less cautious while driving and display more irresponsible behaviors. The open roads are being met with great zeal by drivers after the lockdown, and they are zooming around at far greater speeds after being cooped up for so long. “Since the lockdown was lifted, there has been an increase in unsafe road safety practices. Motorists seem to be speeding more and acting more recklessly since the pandemic arrived. I think this is a big reason for the increased number of road traffic accidents,” explained Attorney Jon Ostroff from Ostroff Injury Law.
Police and state troopers have reported that there has been an increase in the number of cases in which drivers were stopped, ticketed, and more for exceeding 100 mph on roads with far lower speed limits. However, officials believe that these numbers will again drop after a return of regular traffic and social normalcy.
More motorists have been observed failing to follow personal safety practices, such as wearing helmets and seatbelts. Failure to follow these procedures is illegal and a grave danger to the safety of the passengers driving or in the vehicle. Due to such reckless behavior, there has been a spike in the number of deaths due to motorists being ejected out of their vehicles in accidents and sustaining fatal injuries.
According to the result of private research closely monitored by federal transportation safety experts, there has been an increase in texting while driving and drivers fumbling to find their phones while on the road. Before the pandemic, such behaviors were on their way down but now there is an increase again. This could also be one of the causes of the high death toll this year.
Transportation officials have also mentioned that experts have noted and observed an increase in the use of alcohol and marijuana during the pandemic lockdown. The increased use of such substances could also be one of the causes of the increased number of road traffic accidents and deaths.
Although the police and other agencies are desperately trying to curb the numbers, the main responsibility falls on the shoulders of the general public. We must go back to our pre-pandemic ways and be cautious and vigilant while on the road. Although this newfound freedom on the road may be enticing, we must remember that we are not in a bubble, and our actions while driving can impact others. Hence it is essential that we recognize and address our responsibility and work with officials to reduce the number of deaths on the road.
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