Traffic deaths in Michigan and across the country have risen significantly over the last five years, and safety experts blame careless drivers for many of these fatal crashes. Despite fewer cars on the road during the pandemic, fatal accidents increased as more motorists engaged in reckless behaviors such as speeding and drunk/drugged driving. Unfortunately, this trend has not subsided. Here is what drivers need to know about the alarming surge in fatal Michigan car accidents.
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In the U.S., more than a million people died and countless more suffered serious health conditions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the scourge had numerous other ancillary consequences, including an increase in fatal automobile crashes despite fewer cars on the road. Many of these accidents were caused by an escalation of dangerous driving behaviors, which traffic safety professionals attribute to the increased stress levels many people experienced during that time.
Law enforcement reported a rise in the following risky behaviors:
While experts expected these dangerous practices to subside as the pandemic waned, this was not the case. Instead, recent studies show post-pandemic drivers have become even more reckless.
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According to recent data from Michigan State Police, 1,123 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2022. While this is eight fewer, or 1 percent, than the 1,131 deaths reported in 2021, this slight decline does not reverse the upward trend of the last five years. In fact, the latest statistics show a 15 percent rise from 2018, when 974 people died in Michigan car accidents.
To illustrate the facts further, a study by the national research organization TRIP compared fatality rates with the number of miles traveled by vehicles in each state from 2019 through 2022.
In Michigan, motorists drove more than 100 billion miles in 2019, resulting in 985 crash-related deaths. In 2022, although drivers traveled just 98 billion miles, 1,123 people were killed on Michigan roadways. This represents a 22 percent increase in the fatality rate per vehicle miles traveled.
Michigan’s results were similar to the nationwide outcome of the study, which showed a 22 percent rise in fatalities during the same time period, from 36096 deaths in 2019 to 42795 in 2022.
Additionally, the total number of crashes reported in 2022 increased by 10,701, or 4 percent, from 282,640 in 2021 to 293,341.
On a national level, traffic deaths declined only .03 percent, from 42,939 in 2021 to 42,795 in 2022.
Last year, Wayne County had the highest number of fatal car accidents (201), followed by the counties of Oakland (76), Macomb (55), Genesee (50) and Kent (50).
Between 2019 and 2022, fatal crashes increased in most areas of Michigan, with the exception of the Upper Peninsula, where fatalities across all 15 counties decreased by a total of 8.1 percent.
During the same time span, deadly car accidents rose 25 percent in metropolitan Detroit and 30 percent in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula, particularly in Mecosta and Oscoda counties. Additionally, fatal crashes rose 21 percent in the Bay area, including the Thumb counties of Huron, Tuscola and Sanilac.
The smallest increases occurred in western Michigan (5 percent), southwestern Michigan (8 percent) and southern-central Michigan (16 percent).
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While the recent statistics portray a grim picture, new and improved safety protocols can have a significant impact on reducing fatal car accidents in Michigan.
To lessen the rising number of accidents caused by distracted drivers, a law banning the use of hand-held cell phones took effect June 30, 2023. In addition, a package of bills allowing camera-based automated speeding ticket enforcement in construction zones is working its way through the Michigan legislature.
Furthermore, drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians can play an important role in making Michigan roads safer by following these simple tips:
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If you or a loved one is injured in a Michigan car accident, we can help. Our experienced lawyers have the skills, knowledge and resources to win the compensation you and your family deserve.
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