Last year, fewer motorists took to the roadways across New Jersey and the rest of the nation, but this did not lead to a decline in road fatalities. Instead, road and cyclist deaths both increased in 2020. This raises questions about what is causing the uptick and what communities might do to make their roads safer for motorists, passengers and cyclists.
Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more people died on the nation’s roads during 2020 than they did in any year since 2007.
Road death statistics
In 2020, an estimated 38,680 people lost their lives on United States roadways, marking a 7.2% increase over the year prior. Deaths involving those traveling in vehicles increased by 5% in 2020. Deaths involving cyclists increased by the same amount. Meanwhile, the number of miles driven across the United States fell more than 13% within this span. Safety advocates believe there are several factors that may be contributing to the fatality increase.
Road death contributing factors
Some motorists saw the fact that fewer drivers were out on the roads in 2020 as a reason to increase their speeds. Speed was a frequent factor in fatal car crashes in 2020, and so, too, was driver distraction. In many instances, those who died in car wrecks across the United States were also not wearing seat belts at the time their incidents occurred.
While road deaths in many categories increased in 2020, there were a few declines, too. Fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles, for example, decreased by 2% last year.