Figures released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that traffic accidents in Michigan and around the country claimed 42,915 lives in 2021. That is the highest number of road deaths the agency has reported in almost 20 years. This alarming rise in accident fatalities comes at a time when automobiles are safer than ever, and many road safety organizations blame a surge in reckless driving behavior. These groups believe that motorists picked up dangerous habits in 2020 when travel restrictions made traffic much lighter.
Speeding and intoxication
A closer scrutiny of the NHTSA data suggests that these road safety advocacy groups may be right. Speed-related deaths rose by 7.9% in 2021, and the number of road users killed in drunk driving accidents increased by 14%. There was also a worrying 13% rise in pedestrian fatalities.
Michigan traffic accident figures
The rise in road deaths in Michigan in 2021 was not as high as the 10.5% national average, but it is still concerning. Accident fatalities in the Great Lakes State rose by 4.43% to 1,131, and pedestrian fatalities increased by 4.6% to 182. The Michigan State Police attributed 215 road deaths to excessive speed in 2021, and 186 road users died in motor vehicle crashes that troopers determined were caused by careless or reckless drivers. Drunk driving fatalities in Michigan rose by 9.5% to 357 in 2021.
Reckless drivers must be stopped
It appears that the only way to stop road deaths from rising even further is to clamp down on reckless driving. If police officers pull over and ticket or arrest more distracted, speeding or intoxicated motorists, they would respond to fewer fatal accidents. The Michigan Vision Zero initiative aims to eliminate road deaths in the state entirely, but that goal seems a long way off.