Why have Americans stopped wearing seat belts? Deaths of people being thrown from cars without seat belts rise 20% in a year, even though roads were quieter during COVID lockdowns
- There were 6,052 deaths from ejections in 2020, but only 5,059 in 2019 – a 20% increase
- There were 11,883 deaths of people not wearing seat belts in 2020, but only 10,369 in 2019 – a 15% increase
- The number of seat belt deaths fell by 3%, from 11,844 deaths in 2019 to 11,512 in 2020
- The number of pedestrian deaths in 2020 in the United States has increased by 21% compared to 2019
- Travel on all roads and streets in the country decreased by at least 8.6% for each month of 2020 from 2019
- The biggest traffic drops were last April when road traffic fell by 39.8%, and May when it fell by 25.5%
The number of people who died in a car accident while not wearing their seat belts rose by 20% last year, although the roads were much quieter due to COVID.
A recently released report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted that there were 6,052 deaths caused by ejections in 2020, but only 5,059 in 2019, a 20% increase. There were 18,685 deaths not caused by ejections in 2020, but 19,287 in 2019, an increase of just 3%.
It also noted that there were 11,883 deaths from people not wearing seat belts in 2020, but only 10,369 in 2019, a 15% increase. The number of deaths among seat belt users decreased by 3%, from 11,844 deaths in 2019 to 11,512 in 2020.
The number of road deaths rose by 20% in 2020 as people who were not wearing their seat belts were thrown from their cars
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a traffic fatality report in May, which concluded that the spike in deaths also came as traffic slowed.
The federal agency noted that the rate of rampant passenger deaths has risen from March, when lockdown measures came into effect, through December. The biggest spike occurred in April, when seat-belt passengers accounted for 55% of road deaths, compared to just 45% in 2019.
The report also drilled into other measurements of road fatalities in 2020, including that fatal accidents at night increased by 11%. The number of fatal accidents involving speeding increased by 11% and the number of accidents reported by the police involving alcohol increased by 9%.
Fatalities among younger age groups had all risen by at least 14%, while fatalities among people 65 and older had fallen by 9%, perhaps a factor of the pandemic as many elderly people were confined to their homes.
In perhaps another effect of the pandemic, the federal agency noted that the death rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled on rural and urban roads had increased, especially in April as people fled cities.
Last month, the Governors Highway Safety Association also released a report detailing the number of pedestrian-related deaths in 2020, which it said was the largest annual increase since it began collecting data decades ago.
The association revealed that pedestrian deaths in 2020 are up 21% from 2019, noting that another factor is the “increasing shift in U.S. auto sales from passenger cars to light trucks.”
Data from the Federal Highway Administration shows that for every month of 2020, travel on all roads and streets in the country has decreased by at least 8.6% compared to 2019.
The biggest traffic decreases were last April, when road traffic fell by 39.8%, and May when it fell by 25.5%. The data shows that traffic is starting to resume as lockdown measures are lifted, with traffic increasing by 19% since the start of the pandemic last March.
In New York City, however, pedestrian deaths were expected to hit a record high. The Wall Street Journal reported in mid-December.
The newspaper reported that through December 16, the Big Apple recorded a total of 234 road deaths, 115 of which were in cars and motorcycles.