Traffic accidents became far more common in 2021 according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the roads in Indiana were particularly dangerous. There were 209,909 crashes in the Hoosier State in 2021, which is a worrying 14.38% increase over 2020 figures. The number of fatal accidents increased by 1.10% to 824 in 2021, and accidents that cause injuries rose by 11.2% to 30,109. What concerns road safety experts just as much as the figures is that the majority of these accidents were caused by speeding, impairment and other kinds of reckless behavior.
Seat belt use
An Indiana State Police representative blamed the increase in road deaths and injuries on drivers who developed dangerous habits in 2020 when travel restrictions were in place and the roads were empty, and he was particularly concerned about the number of motorists who no longer fasten their safety belts. Seat belt use in Indiana fell to 92% in 2020, and the data indicates that 40% of the road users killed in car accidents were not buckled up when they crashed.
Indiana already has seat belt, drunk driving and speeding laws, so lawmakers are working on new ways to tackle reckless driving and the rising motor vehicle accident rate. A proposed bill working its way through the state’s House of Representatives would allow local authorities to install traffic-monitoring cameras in school zones and provide resources to police departments and prosecutors. The Governors Highway Safety Association is promoting what it calls the Safe System, which is a coordinated approach that includes infrastructure investment, public information campaigns and stricter law enforcement.
A glimmer of hope
Road deaths have surged in recent years even though political leaders in many of the nation’s largest cities have launched Vision Zero initiatives that aim to eliminate traffic fatalities completely within a decade. These programs are not producing the intended results, but data from overseas provides at least a glimmer of hope. The GHSA’s Safe System was first implemented in Sweden, where it helped to reduce traffic accident fatalities by 67%.