Overall, the number of car accident deaths in a year tends to go down. It does move in waves. For instance, more than 56,000 people died in 1972, a high point in the U.S. That fell to just under 46,000 three years later, then rose to 53,500 in 1979.
But, if you look at the whole chart from the 1970s onward, it trends down. 2014 saw just over 35,000 deaths, for instance, and 2019 saw just over 39,000. That was a slight bump upward, but it is all much lower than the 1970s.
That said, the data being collected for 2020 shows that experts believe there was an increase in fatalities. While it would be easy to write this off as just another wave on the line — and it may be — it’s interesting since total miles driven were way down. When just considering how many people worked from home, you can imagine a massive reduction in commuting, but all sorts of other travel plans were also canceled. Deaths in car accidents did not fall along with this, as you would expect them to.
Drinking, speeding and seat belts
The three big reasons for this were:
- People failing to wear their seatbelts
- People driving while under the influence
- People breaking the speed limit
Naturally, you always have some of this. Seat belts can be mandated, but people will ignore them. Speed limits can be set, but drivers will break them. Drinking and driving can be outlawed, but people will still chance it.
2020, though, saw an increase in these activities that was substantial enough to override the lack of cars on the road and deliver one of the largest death tolls in recent years. That’s concerning on its own, but you also have to consider the number of people who were seriously injured in car accidents that they survived — for those very same reasons.
What can you do?
Have you lost a loved one in a serious crash or been badly injured yourself? You may be able to seek compensation, and you must know what steps to take.