Careless driving poses risks

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The latest numbers show that drivers continue to exhibit dangerous behavior on the roads, including speeding, not wearing seat belts, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Traveling on highways poses risks.

U.S. traffic deaths in the first quarter of 2021 rose by 10.5% over last year, even as driving has declined, the government’s road safety agency reported Thursday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 8,730 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes from January through March, compared with the 7,900 fatalities from the same period in 2020.

The increase in traffic fatalities is a continuation of a trend that started in 2020. In June, the NHTSA reported that traffic deaths rose 7% last year to 38,680, the most since 2007. That increase came even as the number of miles traveled by vehicle fell 13% from 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid the ongoing debates surrounding pandemic issues such as vaccinations and masks, other threats to life remain real. In fact, the danger on the road has grown.

U.S. traffic deaths soared after coronavirus lockdowns ended in 2020, hitting the highest yearly total since 2007 as more Americans engaged in unsafe behavior on U.S. roads, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration numbers as reported by Reuters.

In the second half of 2020, the number of traffic deaths was up more than 13%.

In an open letter to drivers in January, NHTSA said “fewer Americans drove but those who did took more risks and had more fatal crashes. ... It’s irresponsible and illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which not only puts your life at risk but the lives of others.”

Seat belt facts per the NHTSA: If you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45% and moderate to critical injury by 50%. Not wearing seat belts is simply taking needless risk. The dangers out there are more than the coronavirus. Buckle your seat belts – please!

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