Each year, AAA warns of the '100 deadliest days' for teen drivers, but this year the company warns data has shown the first days of the summer months could be just as dangerous for all drivers.
Federal statistics have shown that, nationwide, traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high in 2021 across all age brackets, according to AAA. That's a 10% increase in fatalities from 2020, so the non-profit estimates that 2022 may also see an increase.
"Speeding is up, seat belt use is down and driver impairment and multiple other factors contributed to more than 42,000 fatalities last year," said Mike Belcuore, manager of AAA Driver Education, in a press release. "We know that fatal crashes involving teen drivers nearly double in summer months as compared to the rest of the year, but this summer, AAA is concerned that the 'deadliest days' may refer to increased risk for everyone."
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows pedestrian fatalities in crashes increased 13% nationwide in 2021. Passenger deaths increased 9% between 2020 and 2021.
In June, July and August of 2021, data shows there were nearly 12,000 deaths on U.S. roadways. More than half of those killed in crashes were someone other than the driver.
"Teen drivers spend more time behind the wheel in summer months, and they certainly have less experience than those who have been driving for years," said Belcuore in the press release. "But these troubling statistics indicate that whatever experience more seasoned drivers gained over time has been lost over the pandemic, with tragic outcomes."
To reduce dangerous crashes and fatalities on U.S. roadways, AAA suggests the following tips:
- Slow down — Speeding is considered to be the top factor contributing to increased roadway fatalities and was identified as a contributing factor in more than 25% of deadly crashes in the summer of 2021.
- Buckle up — Since the pandemic, there has been an increase in unrestrained occupant deaths and ejections.
- Don't drive impaired — According to the NHTSA, 20% of all fatal crashes in the summer month typically involve alcohol.
- Drive defensively — This will increase the time drivers have to react to another driver.
- Limit distractions — The NHTSA reports distracted driving accounts for around 8% of all fatal crashes, but that number could be artificially low because distracted driving is assumed to be underreported.
- Watch for pedestrians and cyclists — Pedestrian deaths jumped almost 15% from 2020 to 2021, killing more than 7,000 people. The number of cyclists killed increased 5%, with almost 1,000 people dead.
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