Wednesday, November 2, 2022

U.S. traffic deaths reached nearly 43,000 in 2021, the most in 16 years, a driving update

Today's driving update about traffic deaths begins with a grim statistic from NewsNation: Traffic deaths hit 16-year high in U.S. | Rush Hour.

Nearly 43,000 people died on U.S. roads in 2021, the country's highest total in 16 years. Dylan Rivera, of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, joined NewsNation "Rush Hour" to talk about what they've seen in Portland and how traffic deaths could be reduced.
Rivera is right about the usual pattern during recessions; people drive less, so there are fewer traffic deaths. Not during the pandemic. People drove less, but they drove more recklessly, so deaths actually went up. Voice of America explained this phenomenon and connected it to drug overdoses in Why US Traffic Deaths, Drug Overdoses Skyrocketed During the Pandemic.

US traffic deaths and drug overdoses skyrocketed in 2021. VOA’s Dora Mekouar examines how the pandemic might be prompting Americans to behave more recklessly.
As I tell my students, I think both the pandemic and the responses to it drove a lot of Americans crazy. They generally agree.

The bad news is that the trend is continuing this year, as 13 News Now (WVEC in Hampton Roads, Virginia) reported Traffic deaths continue to rise in 2022.

Compared to 2021, traffic deaths are up 7%. This comes as more people get back to travel in the aftermath of the pandemic.
The second sentence of this video description hints at what passes for good news. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported, "the fatality rate for 2021 was 1.33 fatalities per 100 million VMT, marginally down from 1.34 fatalities in 2020. While the fatality rate continued to rise in the first quarter, it declined in the other three quarters of 2021, compared to 2020." In other words, bad driving didn't get any worse last year, so the increase in deaths comes from increased driving. That's small, cold comfort given the "estimated 42,915 people [who] died in motor vehicle traffic crashes last year, a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 fatalities in 2020. The projection is the highest number of fatalities since 2005 and the largest annual percentage increase in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System’s history. Behind each of these numbers is a life tragically lost, and a family left behind."

That's the general driving update. Follow over the jump for my personal driving report.

I told my readers "Stay tuned for the next driving update, which could either be for Snow Bear or Pearl, to find out" at the end of Average gas price falls below $4.00, a driving update. It's for Pearl, which rolled over 57,000 miles on Tuesday, October 25, 2022. That's 76 days since she passed 56,000 miles on August 10, 2022. That translates to 13.16 miles per day, 401.32 miles per standard month, and 4,802.63 miles per standard year. On the on hand, that's a lot more than the 7.19 miles per day, 219.42 miles per standard month, and 2,625.90 miles per standard year I drove her between March 24, 2022 and August 10, 2022. On the other, it's still less than the 19.61 miles per day, 598.04 miles per standard month, and 7,156.86 miles per year I drove her between August 31, 2021 and October 21, 2021, the comparable period last year.

Speaking of October to October comparisons, I drove Pearl 3,000 miles between October 21, 2021 and October 25, 2022, 369 days. That's 8.13 miles per day, 247.97 miles per standard month, and 2,967.45 miles per standard year. That's actually slightly less than the 8.72 miles per day, 265.99 miles per standard month, and 3,183.14 miles per year I drove her between August 31, 2021 and August 10, 2022, as well as still less than the 4,000+ miles per year I thought I'd be driving Pearl by now. That's still two or three more updates away.

The next driving update should be for Snow Bear, which I'm driving today. She should roll over her next 1,000 miles this month. Stay tuned.


  1. The pandemic certainly helped a lot of Americans bring out their inner asshole, and they don't seem to have improved since then. The fact that it's coming out in how they drive isn't surprising. I drive very little any more, as little as possible.

    Who's the young lady in the fetching outfit? I thought "Pearl" was a car?

    1. "The pandemic certainly helped a lot of Americans bring out their inner asshole, and they don't seem to have improved since then. The fact that it's coming out in how they drive isn't surprising."

      And also in drug abuse, including overdoses, suicides, and homicides. And, no, they haven't gotten better.

      "I drive very little any more, as little as possible."

      Good for you. I keep track of my mileage now to be more mindful of my driving and examine my environmental impact.

      "Who's the young lady in the fetching outfit? I thought 'Pearl' was a car?"

      Ah, we have the same opinion of her costume! I don't know the actress's name, but she's playing Captain Redd, a character from the most recent version of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. As such, she has one degree of separation from my car's namesake, Captain Jack Sparrow's ship The Black Pearl. I started running out of images of The Black Pearl, so I stated using images of other pirates from entertainment instead. I've used Redd before and also her real life inspiration Anne Bonny. If I keep Pearl long enough, I might get around to the two Disney versions of Captain Hook.

    2. Thanks for linking to this in Link round-up for 6 November 2022 and welcome to everyone coming here from your post! Thank you for stopping by! Also, thanks to all my French readers — I appreciate your support!

  2. Thanks for the information on Captain Redd -- and thanks for your posts.

    1. You're doubly welcome and thanks for dropping by and commenting!