U.S. traffic fatalities surge 10.5% in 2021 to highest count since 2005
Traffic deaths surged after coronavirus lockdowns ended in 2020 as more drivers engaged in unsafe behavior like speeding and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Traffic deaths in 2020 rose 6.8 percent and up 18 percent over pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
Forty four U.S. states and the District of Columbia all are projected to have an increase in traffic deaths.
NHTSA said the fatality rate in 2021 fell slightly to 1.33 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled down from 1.34 million in 2020, which was the highest rate since 2007.
One factor for the big jump in 2020 was that drivers who remained on the roads engaged in riskier behavior, NHTSA said.
As U.S. roads became less crowded, some motorists perceived police were less likely to issue tickets because of COVID-19, experts say.