Speeding and other risky behavior by drivers contributed to a surge of traffic deaths across the United States during the first nine months of 2021. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently shared its assessment.
At the end of last September, the agency reports 31,720 deaths occurred – a 12% increase over the same period in 2020. It was the most significant percentage increase for a nine-month period since the government started recording traffic fatality data in 1975.
The dangers of speeding
The NHTSA says speeding drivers are involved in nearly one-third of all fatal car accidents. In 2019, excessive speed was a factor in 26% of all accidents. While the dangers may be self-evident to many, others don’t get it. In addition to breaking the law, the consequences for speeding include:
- Greater chance of losing control of your vehicle
- Reducing the effectiveness of seatbelts and other safety equipment
- Increased stopping distance in an emergency
- Higher risk of a crash leading to more severe injuries
- Extreme medical costs for negligent drivers and those they injure
The hazards increase exponentially when speeding motorists are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or become distracted while driving.
Kentucky saw some good news in 2021
The NHTSA estimates that fatalities rose in 2021 compared to the year before in every part of the U.S. except Region 3, which contains Kentucky, Washington, D.C. and five other eastern states. Traffic deaths declined there during the first nine months by 2%. Kentucky reported 3.1% fewer fatalities during the same period.
While that’s good news, Kentucky has seen a significant increase in traffic deaths since 2019. Safety experts attribute much of that to riskier behavior by more drivers, such as speeding. That trend began during the early stages of the pandemic but has been slow to subside as our daily lives creep closer to normal.