38,680 people died in auto accidents in the US in 2020 compared to 36,096 a year earlier according to preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The 7.2 % increase in crashes occurred as the total number of miles travelled by motor vehicles decreased by 13.2%, an indication that roads were much more dangerous during the pandemic. The rate of fatalities by 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) raised from 1.1 VMT in 2019 to 1.37 VMT in 2021. This is the highest rate of crash fatalities recorded in the US since 2007.
The region that includes NY, NJ, CT, and PA had the highest increase of fatal auto accidents
When looking at the increase of fatal motor vehicle accidents by regions between 2019 and 2020, region 2 that includes NY, PA NJ and CT was the worst with a 10% increase in traffic accident deaths.
While region 2 had the highest increase in fatalities, its fatality rate was the second lowest of all regions, raising from 0.82 VMT in 2019 to 1.10 in 2020. Region 6 that includes New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Mississippi had the worst auto fatality rate increasing from 1.35 VMT in 2019 to 1.65 VMT in 2020. Region 4 that includes Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee had the second highest fatality rate, raising from 1.35 in 2019 to 1.63 in 2020.
Accidents causing occupants ejection up by 20%
While looking at crashes by sub categories the NHTSA found that crashes on urban interstates increased by 15% , those on urban local collector roads went up by 12% and those on rural local roads increased by 10%. Nighttime accidents increased by 10% and week-end accidents were up by 9%. Accidents that caused occupants ejections were up 20% while speed related crashes increased by 11%. Single vehicle crashes were up by 9%.
The age group that has the highest increase of fatal crashes were the 25 to 34 year old with an 18% increase compared to 15 % for the 16 to 24 year old group and 14% for the 35 to 44 year old. Because older people mostly stayed home during the pandemic they saw a decline in auto fatalities.
Read more on the NHTSA website