Traffic Deaths Way Up In 2020

The National Safety Council estimates that US traffic fatalities were way up in 2020, which is even more shocking considering how many fewer miles were driven, due to the pandemic.

Total fatalities increased to ~42,000, and the number of miles per fatality was ~670,000. For years I have quoted 35,000 fatalities per year and one fatality per 100,000 million miles, both in the US. But those numbers are firmly behind us, since both metrics have been deteriorating for the past few years.

This year’s absolute number of fatalities is the highest since 2007.

The current report doesn’t speculate as to the cause of the increase, although previously the NSC has cited distracted driving due to cell phone use as an important and relatively new factor in accident rates.

I would love to see data on whether ADAS systems like Tesla Autopilot and GM SuperCruise improve fatality rates, by compensating for distracted drivers, or worsen them, by lulling drivers into a false sense of security.

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