Despite fewer cars on the road, traffic fatalities are highest since 2007

Maybe it’s that Road Warrior mentality of driving around in a post-apocalyptic world, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says traffic deaths in the pandemic times are at a high not seen since 2007’s all-time record. 

The agency says that even though there are fewer cars on the road since the start of the pandemic, traffic deaths for the first quarter of 2021 were up 10% from the year prior: 8,730 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first three months of 2021, as opposed to some 7,900 fatalities during the same time in 2020.

NHTSA figures note that drivers have been engaging “in more risky behavior, including speeding, failing to wear seat belts, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol” in 2021.

The group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety called the fatality uptick “especially alarming considering traffic, expressed in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), actually decreased by just over two percent [in 2021].”