Michigan road deaths spiked in the first nine months of 2021 to 882, an 11 percent jump from the previous year, according to disturbing new federal data. The statewide surge mirrors national figures projecting an overall 12 percent increase in traffic fatalities in a country still gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report, recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), found that 31,720 people died in crashes nationwide during the nine months from January to September.
The pandemic has taken its toll on Michigan motorists since the very beginning. Though the number of traffic crashes and injuries was down in 2020, traffic deaths went up, according to the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center. The latest NHTSA data shows the same upward trend for 2021.
Overall, 38 states saw an increase in traffic deaths. The Midwest region, which includes Michigan, ranked in the top five areas in the nation to see a rise in accident-related fatalities.
Why Are Crash Deaths Up?
Transportation officials say crash deaths spiked amid the pandemic due to changes in driver behavior. Roads were emptier as more Americans switched to remote work and schooling, encouraging drivers to speed. NHTSA also noted a decrease in seat belt use during the pandemic. Studies show that buckling up can reduce your risk of dying in a car crash by 45 percent and lower the risk of injury by half.
Defensive Driving Tips
Driving is the most dangerous activity most people do every day. You stand the chance of getting hurt in a crash every time you ride in a car. However, you can do your part to reduce the likelihood of a collision by driving defensively. Here are some tips:
- Obey the rules of the road. Pay attention to traffic signs and signals. Don’t zip through a yellow light just because it’s not red yet.
- Stay alert. Check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or making turns. Look for motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists, who are smaller and less visible on the roads.
- Put your cell phone down. Texting while driving is illegal in Michigan. But even talking on the phone can be a dangerous distraction for drivers.
- No speeding. Adjust your speed to the traffic conditions, not just what the speed limit signs say. Driving too fast increases the chances of severe injuries in a crash.
- Don’t tailgate. Following too closely gives you little time to react to changes in the road ahead. Tailgating contributes to rear-end and chain-reaction crashes involving multiple vehicles.
- Maintain your car. Check your oil, tires, fluid levels, lights, and mirrors before heading out. Keeping your vehicle in good condition can prevent dangerous breakdowns.
- Buckle up. Always wear your seat belt. Make sure children are properly fastened into car seats and booster seats according to Michigan law.
- Designate a driver. Never drive while intoxicated. Always appoint a sober driver to keep the roads safe.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer for Help
If you suffered injuries in a motor vehicle accident, get in touch with Christensen Law right away. Our award-winning car accident lawyers provide high-quality legal representation to clients throughout Michigan. With a track record of success securing top-dollar verdicts and settlements for our clients, our attorneys know what it takes to build a strong case for maximum compensation. Call or contact us today for a free consultation with a trusted Michigan car accident lawyer.