After two straight years of high roadway fatality rates during the pandemic, there was strong hope that these numbers would gradually fall in 2022.
But The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently reported that in the first quarter of this year, U.S. traffic deaths jumped about 7% to 9,560 – the highest recorded quarter in 20 years. It’s also up 21% from the same period back in 2020.
Below, we discuss recent crash statistics, their causes and what companies that manage fleets must do to combat them.
Crash Statistics Over the Years
For decades, car crash fatalities had been on a decline. Much of this was due to a greater focus on safety in both vehicle and roadway design. However, progress has stalled in the last 10 years, as we now see these numbers take a terrifying turn.
Last year, NHTSA estimated that 31,720 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. throughout the first nine months of 2021. This is a 12% increase from those who were killed in crashes in 2020 and the highest number of fatalities reported throughout the first nine months of any year since 2006.
In 2021, the number of pedestrians killed also jumped 13% to 7,342 – the highest since 1981. The number of people on bicycles who were killed rose 5% to 985, the most since at least 1980.
What’s Causing the Increase in Traffic Deaths?
When we dig into the causes of these alarming statistics, the answer is clear: 94% of crashes are due to human behavior.
Poor driving habits have been on the rise since 2019, including speeding, alcohol-impaired driving and unrestrained passengers. There has been a reported increase in inattentive driving as well, averaging nine deaths and over 1,000 injuries each day.
As it becomes harder for companies to hire quality drivers due to historic driver shortages and the increase in nonprofessional gig workers, many companies find themselves lowering the barrier of entry for drivers. This is so that they can still offer competitive delivery times and meet growing customer expectations.
But without providing the proper training for these underqualified drivers, companies are increasing their liability and endangering others who share the road.
How Companies Can Combat High Vehicle Fatality Rates
Crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths and the first or second leading cause of death in every major industry group. All workers are at risk of crashes, whether they drive light or heavy-duty vehicles, or if driving is their main or incidental job duty.
In order to combat these dangers, companies must do everything in their power to ensure that safety is top of mind throughout their entire driver population. Each and every time a company driver gets behind the wheel, they need to be aware of the dangers that surround them, as well as how to anticipate and respond to them appropriately.
It starts with ensuring your drivers are well-trained on critical defensive driving techniques. A proactive, comprehensive training program is a proven strategy to better protect your greatest asset – your drivers – as well as your company as a whole.
Looking to implement defensive driver training for your fleet, but unsure where to start? Download our checklist and discover the critical topics your company must cover to effectively combat the dangers of the road.