The Seattle Times reported this week that in 2021, Washington officials saw a major uptick in deadly traffic accidents, making the past year the most dangerous for drivers in the Evergreen State since 2006.
After a surprisingly deadly 2020 despite the lower traffic caused by the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, officials hoped that 2021 would see a decrease in the number of fatal crashes. They were wrong. By the end of 2021, law enforcement had registered a record number of deadly car crashes.
Over 600 Killed, Thousands Injured In Traffic Accidents In 2021
According to the data released by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), officials registered 540 fatal traffic accidents in 2021, the highest number since 2006, when officials reported 578 deadly crashes.
Overall, over 600 people lost their lives as a result in 2021, while an additional 2,410 crashes resulted in likely serious injuries — a 16% increase from 2020.
In Seattle, car accidents claimed 31 people in 2021 alone. At least 19 of the victims were pedestrians. Additionally, nearly half of the accidents involved hit-and-runs.
Experts Can’t Identify A Single Reason For Record-Breaking Accident Numbers
With the numbers of deadly car accidents in Seattle and elsewhere in Washington on the rise, many wonder if there was one single factor that contributed to the record-breaking rates. According to the experts, the answer is no.
In 2021, the number of alcohol- and drug-related accidents remained high after having increased 25% from 2019 to 2020, but that wasn’t the only factor. Speeding and aggressive, reckless driving have also contributed to the high number of traffic deaths. In addition, distractions are also plaguing many drivers as they get back to a regular driving routine following the pandemic.
Until more data is analyzed, it is important to focus on what we can do to avoid accidents.
Deadly Traffic Accidents On The Rise Across The Country
National data collected by the National Safety Council suggests that from 2019 to 2020, there was a 7% increase in serious traffic accidents from 2019 and 2020. Washington saw a 6% increase in the same period. However, the numbers for 2021 have not yet been released.
Whatever the average rate might be, Washington officials are not waiting around for the numbers to act.
“The alarming trend in Washington state really highlights the fact that we need to think about how we ensure that if someone does make a mistake that it’s survivable,” WSDOT’s state traffic engineer Dongho Chang told the Seattle Times.
While officials look at what they can do to prevent more deaths, experts remind drivers to stay calm behind the wheel.
In 2020, people became isolated and fearful. In 2021, experts told the news outlet, the sentiments remained despite the return to a more normal life. Drivers are still being impacted by these stressors, which could be leading to an increase in traffic deaths.
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