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NHTSA Releases Annual Traffic Crash Data Report

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its most recent Traffic Crash Data report, which shows that 2020 saw an increase in fatal crashes.

The report, which is released annually, shows that 38,824 lives were lost in traffic crashes nationwide in 2020 – the highest number of fatalities since 2007. 

According to the report, the number of fatal crashes increased by 6.8%, while the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled increased to 1.34 (a 31% jump from 2019).

In 45% of the fatal crashes, the drivers of the vehicles were engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors: speeding, alcohol impairment, or not wearing a seat belt. 

Here is the breakdown of the increased fatalities by category, as compared to 2019:

  • Fatalities in speeding-related crashes up 17%
  • Fatalities in alcohol-impaired driving crashes up 14%
  • Unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities up 14%
  • Motorcyclist fatalities up 11% (highest number since the first data collection in 1975)
  • Bicyclist fatalities up 9.2% (highest number since 1987)
  • Passenger car occupant fatalities up 9%
  • Fatalities in urban areas up 8.5%
  • Pedestrian fatalities up 3.9% (highest number since 1989)
  • Fatalities in hit-and-run crashes up 26%

“The rising fatalities on our roadways are a national crisis; we cannot and must not accept these deaths as inevitable,” said US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. 

Those thoughts were echoed by NHTSA Deputy Administrator Dr. Steven Cliff, who said that “we cannot allow” the rise in deaths “to become the status quo.” 

The increase in fatalities comes despite the number of total vehicle miles traveled decreasing by 11% in 2020, largely due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and more people working from home. 

These numbers serve as an indicator of just how many fatal accidents happen across the US on a yearly basis, including in South Carolina. Many of those who lost their lives were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, the victims of other people’s negligence or recklessness. 

In such cases, the families of the deceased individuals may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Although nothing will bring back their loved ones, these lawsuits can provide compensation which can alleviate the financial pain associated with the tragedy. 

If you have lost a loved one in a South Carolina car accident, contact the attorneys at McWhirter, Bellinger & Associates. We have been representing clients in wrongful death lawsuits for more than 40 years, and we do everything we can to make sure our clients receive what they are rightfully owed. 


We have offices across the Midlands of South Carolina, in Aiken, Camden, Columbia, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, and Sumter

Call us today at 888-353-5513 for a free case evaluation. We will listen to your story and provide you with legal guidance regarding any next steps.