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U.S. Road Deaths Rise As Risky Driving Persists

A traffic jam on a freeway

Columbus car accident lawyers discuss this troubling trend

Bad driving habits have skyrocketed during the pandemic, making the risk for fatal and serious car accidents higher.

Poor driving habits include things like speeding, failing to wear a seat belt, texting while driving and other forms of distracted driving, ignoring traffic signals, running red lights, and aggressive driving (road rage).

The bad habits coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and, much like the virus, have continued to persist. On highways and rural roads in all but around 10 states, there have been more serious accidents like T-bones, head-on collisions, rear-enders, and rollovers.

While final numbers are still being calculated, analysts note that fatal car accidents surged in Ohio and across the country over the first nine months of 2021, with about 31,720 deaths reported nationwide.

This is 12 percent higher than the deadly crashes recorded over the same time period in 2020. It is also the highest percentage increase over a nine-month period since the U.S. started tracking such information in 1975.

Ohio fatal car accidents rise

The recent wave of deadly crashes is fueled, in part, by less traffic, analysts say. Throughout the pandemic, people have been encouraged to stay home. Some drivers used the empty streets as a poor excuse to drop good driving habits. This seems to be happening in Ohio, too.

In the Buckeye State, there were 929 deadly crashes in the first nine months of 2021 compared to 853 over the same time period in 2020 - an almost 9 percent year-over-year increase. Fatal crashes were concentrated in several counties including:

  • Cuyahoga County, 87 fatal crashes reported
  • Franklin County, 83
  • Montgomery County, 50
  • Hamilton County, 47
  • Lucas County, 42
  • Summit County, 34

In general, the crashes were concentrated in the communities of Akron, Barberton, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Lancaster, Sandusky, Toledo, Warren, and Youngstown.

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) collects data on a range of crashes. In 2021, ODOT says the following roadways saw the most crashes:

  • I-75
  • I-71
  • US-42
  • US-20
  • I-70

Deadly crash factors

Many factors drove up the number of injury-causing and fatal car accidents in Ohio, according to ODOT data. During the nine-month period studied there were more than 30,000 crashes resulting in serious injuries or death. The most common crash factors included:

  • Commercial trucks like semis, tractor-trailers, and delivery vans
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Drunk driving, aka operating a vehicle impaired (OVI or DUI)
  • Mature drivers
  • Ran a red light
  • Speeding
  • Teen driver
  • Distracted driving
  • Deer

Safer street plans

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has called the situation a "crisis" and outlined a plan to reverse the trend. The goal is to reduce fatal car accidents as well as those that cause serious injuries like traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), concussions, broken bones, and spinal cord injuries.

As part of the federal infrastructure funding package, grants will be awarded to communities to encourage reducing speed limits and embracing safer road designs like dedicated bike and bus lanes, better lighting, and crosswalks.

Also at the federal level, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is moving toward requiring new passenger vehicles to come standard with car safety features like crash avoidance and lane-keeping assistance.

As of this writing, it was not clear how much money would be coming to the state for such roadway projects.

Injured in an Ohio car accident? Call Gervelis Law.

Bad car accidents happen in Ohio every day, and the problem only seems to be getting worse. If you were injured in a crash that wasn't your fault or a loved one died in an accident caused by someone else, you have recourse through the civil justice system.

At Gervelis Law Firm, our highly skilled car accident attorneys have a reputation in Columbus and throughout Ohio for getting crash victims the justice and compensation they deserve. Learn how we can help you and contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation. We have five offices conveniently located throughout Ohio, including Columbus and Toledo.

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