US traffic grew 7% last year, highest since 2007

The government’s Highway Safety Agency says US traffic deaths rose 7% last year

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration blamed the increase on drivers taking more risks while speeding on less-congested roads, not wearing seat belts, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The agency released preliminary numbers, saying an estimated 38,680 people died in traffic accidents last year, the most in any year since 2007. The final numbers usually come out in the fall.

The increase came even as the number of miles traveled by vehicle fell 13% from 2019.

According to the NHTSA, motorcycle ridership deaths rose 9% last year to 5,015, while cyclist deaths rose 5% to 846. Pedestrian fatalities held steady at 6,205, and the number of casualties in passenger vehicles rose 5% to 23,395.

Deaths from a large truck fell by 2%, while traffic among people 65 and older dropped by 9%.

The agency said it has data showing that speeds have increased during the year, and instances of extreme speeds have become more common.

Preliminary data from the Federal Highway Administration shows that vehicle miles traveled last year declined by about 430.2 billion miles compared to 2019. There were 1.37 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2020, up from 1.11 deaths a year earlier.


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US traffic grew 7% last year, highest since 2007