If you live in or drive around Maryland, the news is promising. Unfortunately the same can’t be said about Virginia. That’s because, while traffic death rates have been trending downward in Maryland, those figures are going in the wrong direction throughout Virginia.
A Spike in Virginia Traffic Deaths
In a newly released report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the country saw a 12 percent increase in traffic fatalities between January and September of 2021, in comparison to the first nine months of 2020. The NHTSA projects the number of fatalities in the first nine months of 2021 to be 31,720, making that 12 percent increase the highest of its kind over a nine-month period in the 46 years the U.S. Department of Transportation has been tracking fatal crash data. Overall, the 31,720 projected deaths would be the highest since 2006.
The uptick in fatalities in Virginia during this period in 2021 is not as staggering as the national statistics, but there was still a 1.3 percent increase in estimated fatalities in the state. And any increase is bad news. Sadly, Virginia is far from alone–NHTSA preliminary data revealed that traffic deaths increased in 38 states, with Idaho (36 percent increase), Nevada (30 percent), Oregon (29 percent), Minnesota (25 percent), and Texas (22 percent) leading the way.
A Significant Decrease in Maryland Traffic Deaths
On the flip side is nearby Maryland, which reported a 13.2 percent decrease in estimated traffic fatalities from January through September of 2021. During a time when three-quarters of all U.S. states saw increases in traffic-related deaths, Maryland was one of only 10 states (plus Maryland’s close neighbor, the District of Columbia) that reported decreases in traffic deaths. Two states, Mississippi and Wisconsin, experienced neither an increase nor a decrease.
A Crisis That Needs Addressing
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has called the nearly nationwide increase in highway deaths a national crisis and has pledged to work with President Biden to include billions of dollars in grants in the president’s infrastructure bill to incentivize states into making highways safer. Some ways in which the funding could be used include:
- Lower speed limits
- Safer road design
- Improved lighting on roadways
- More crosswalks
- Dedicated bike and bus lanes
- Increased use of speed cameras
Transportation Secretary Buttigieg also suggested enhancing and improving railways and public transit systems as these are generally safer modes of transportation. Additionally, the NHTSA is implementing regulations that would require factory installation of emergency brakes on all new vehicles and set standards on crash-avoidance features in vehicles, such as lane-keeping assistance.
Traffic Deaths in Maryland and Virginia
We all know that accidents happen every day; unfortunately, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve been occurring entirely too frequently, as speeding and less-frequent seat belt usage have increasingly contributed to this disturbing trend in traffic fatalities. That is why it’s so important to wear your seat belt, follow local laws, do not drive distracted or intoxicated, and practice safe driving habits.
If you follow all of the suggestions and still find yourself injured in a car accident, be sure to call the car accident attorneys at The Lapidus Law Firm. We have decades of experience navigating our clients through the process of an auto accident, and we’re ready to help if you find yourself in that situation. Please call us at (202) 785-5111 or (301) 852-7500 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Remember, we are committed to making justice work for you.
Written by Larry Lapidus