There were 38,824 traffic fatalities in this county in 2020 according to data released last month by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This is the highest number of traffic deaths since 2007 even though the number of vehicle miles travelled fell.
According to the NHTSA’s report, the estimated number of police-reported accidents dropped by 22 percent compared to 2019. The estimated number of people with a non-fatal personal injury also fell by seven percent.
But fatal accidents rose by 6.8 percent. The death rate per 100 million vehicle miles travelled rose to 1.34 which was a 21 percent increase from 2019 and the highest since 2009. Overall, however, the total vehicle miles travelled dropped by 11 percent in 2020 from 3.3 million to 2.9 million.
Forty-five percent of all fatal accidents involved passenger vehicle drivers engaged in one of four risky activities. These were speeding, alcohol impairment or not wearing a set belt.
The 2020 report also compared other data to 2020:
- Injured occupants and nonoccupants fell substantially in most categories.
- Deaths from speeding accidents rose 17 percent.
- Deaths in alcohol-impaired driving accidents increased by 14 percent.
- Motorcycle deaths rose 11 percent which is the highest number since data collection began in 1975.
- Bicyclist deaths rose 9.2 percent which is the highest since 1987.
- Passenger vehicle occupant deaths were up by nine percent.
- Urban area fatalities rose 8.5 percent.
- Pedestrian deaths increased by 3.9 percent which is the highest since 1989.
- Hit-and-run deaths rose 26 percent.
- Large truck accidents dropped 1.3 percent.
North Carolina also had a 5.6 percent rise in traffic deaths from 2019 to 2020. There were 1,538 accident deaths in the state in 2020. It joined 41 other states and the District of Columbia which had a higher number of accident deaths.
Thirty percent of the deaths in North Carolina were attributed to an alcohol-impaired driver. Excessive speed played a role in 32 percent of fatalities.
Victims of these accidents and their families may be entitled to compensation from a reckless or negligent driver. Attorneys can help them pursue their rights in a civil lawsuit.