2020 was a very bad year.
We cover quite a few crash stories, highlighting stupidity from people who want to show off, the more serious problem of failed safety systems, or just bad luck. These stories can be amusing, but in many cases, these crashes can be fatal. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2020 was one of the saddest years in recent memory for American motorists as road deaths soared post-lockdown. The report says that 2020 saw 38,680 fatalities on US roads, the highest yearly total since 2007. It's an increase of 7.2 percent or almost 2,600 more deaths than the year before, despite the fact that the pandemic saw Americans drive 13 percent fewer miles than in 2019.
According to the report, the fatality rate last year was 1.37 deaths per 100 million miles, making it the worst year since 2006. The second half of the year was particularly bad as traffic deaths increased by over 13 percent. The causes, however, are nothing new: impaired driving, speeding, and failure to wear seatbelts. Fatal crashes where drivers and passengers weren't wearing seatbelts increased by 15 percent, while speeding contributed to 10 percent more deaths and alcohol was involved in nine percent more fatalities on the road.
Another factor that some experts have laid the blame on is that, with quieter roads as lockdown restrictions were beginning to ease, motorists thought they could get away with reckless driving more often, assuming that police would be less likely to issue tickets.
An open letter released by the NHTSA in January mirrored these sentiments, saying that "fewer Americans drove but those who did took more risks and had more fatal crashes." Basically, American motorists seem to be less willing to obey the law if they think they have a better chance of getting away with a crime, but the biggest causes are the ones that have always been attributed to crashes: drinking and driving, excessive speed, and failure to wear a seatbelt. Sadly, no matter what manufacturers do (the Genesis G80 offers remarkable safety systems), if motorists don't obey the rules of the road, fatalities will continue.