Road deaths are on the rise in Massachusetts, new report says


Massachusetts road deaths are up 20%, compared to an average of 9% across the country.

If you’ve noticed an increase in headlines mentioning road deaths over the past year or so, your keen sense of observation has picked up on a sad discovery that we now know is backed by data.

A new report from QuoteWizarda website that helps customers compare insurance rates, found road deaths in Massachusetts increased 20% between 2021 and 2020.

That’s more than double the percentage increase for the country, which was 9% year-over-year. Massachusetts recorded the fourth highest increase in road fatalities between 2020 and 2021.

Some populations have seen larger increases

Notably, according to the report, road deaths did not increase proportionally across all demographics from 2020 to 2021.

The number of road deaths increased slightly more among women than men, and while road deaths only increased by 7% among people aged 16-24 and 55-64 , they increased by about 15% among people aged 35 to 44 and people over 65.

But by far the most dramatic demographic difference found in the report was among people of different races.

While road deaths among white people only increased by 4% between 2020 and 2021, road deaths among black people increased by 23%. American Indians and Asian and Pacific Islanders also saw similar increases.

Why road deaths have increased so much in 2021

According to the report, the increase in road deaths is closely linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, as road deaths in 2020 hit a 13-year high.

One of the reasons experts believe the pandemic has resulted in so many road deaths is that with fewer people on the road, drivers were more likely to accelerate.

According to the National Highway Safety Administration, speeding is one of the deadliest things drivers can do. It’s harder to stop in time, it makes you more likely to lose control of your car, and the faster the car is going at the time of the accident, the more serious the resulting injuries will be.

Although speed-related statistics are not yet available for 2021, overall the number of speed-related fatalities increased by 11% in 2020 for the whole country, even if the total number of kilometers traveled has decreased. They also accounted for nearly a third of all road deaths.

According an article published by the American Psychological Associationit’s not just the lack of cars on the road that may have led to an increase in speeding during the pandemic.

A psychologist has suggested that “under stressful circumstances, ‘people will do things that might be considered risky or out of character to feel good, to feel alive'”.

The article also said that in some places the police presence on the roads had decreased, leading more people to want to speed up.

Stress caused by the pandemic may also have been a factor, according to the article. This may have led to more tired or distracted drivers, both of which are more dangerous drivers.

The federal government has a plan to fix this problem

Earlier this year, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has called out the rise in road deaths “a crisis on America’s roads,” and unveiled his department’s plan to make roads safer.

The plan has five components: educating people about the dangers of risky driving behavior, improving roads to make them safer, implementing new safety standards for newly manufactured cars, reducing speed limits on dangerous roads and improve emergency medical care.

Still, it could be years before the impact of the Biden administration’s new road safety plan is felt.

In 2022, more people are back on the road as businesses fully reopen, but whether or not the upward trend in road fatalities will continue remains to be seen.

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