With spring in full swing, it's the season for slick surfaces and poor visibility for drivers across the country. And sometimes, those hazardous driving conditions can quickly become deadly.
Forbes calculated that one fatal car accident occurs every 15 minutes in the United States.
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To break that down further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a statistical estimate that projects the country saw 42,795 fatalities on the road over the course of 2022.
And while that is a slight decrease nationally from the year before, fatalities are projected to have gone up in 23 states — and a handful of them are showing some worrying trends.
According to the latest NHTSA data, these five states in particular represent 37% of the total road deaths in 2022. Which means if you’re driving through one of these states, you’ll want to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.
The Lone Star State recorded 4,496 fatalities in 2022, which is only two less fatalities than the state saw last year.
While you might be quick to assume major cities like Houston, San Antonio and Dallas were driving the increase, in fact, 51% of the state’s fatalities in 2021 were in rural areas, according to the Texas Tribune. That’s a massive percentage when you consider that only 10% of the state’s population lives in a rural area.
The Tribune report identified a few reasons for this. The biggest issue is high speeds with low seatbelt usage. But it also comes down to spotty cell coverage, which makes it difficult at times to call for help or receive backup.
On top of that, many of these rural areas don’t have designated trauma centers nearby. However, the state is now putting money towards improving the number of trauma centers in the state, as well as creating scholarships for those entering emergency medicine.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the next highest on the list is also the second largest state. California is projected to have 4,407 fatalities on record for 2022, a increase of 2.4% from the year before. Yet while Texas has a focus on its rural communities, California's pain point is Los Angeles.
For the first time in two decades, traffic deaths for the city passed 300 in 2022, according to the L.A. Times. This was a 5% increase from 2021, and a whopping 29% from 2020, during the height of the pandemic. Pedestrians and cyclists are especially vulnerable in L.A., with 159 deaths resulting from collisions involving pedestrians and motorists and another 20 deaths from crashes involving cyclists and cars.
The Times pinpointed Soto Street and Washington Boulevard, Florence and Vermont avenues, Balboa Boulevard and Saticoy Street and Cahuenga Boulevard and Selma Avenue as the worst areas in the city.
However, it should be noted that outside of L.A., everything from unrestrained vehicle collisions to alcohol-impaired driving decreased year-over-year in California.
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The Sunshine State also marked a high level of fatalities in 2022, reaching 3,652 deaths over the course of the year. While this was a decrease of 2.3% compared to last year, not all areas within the state was able to see such an improvement.
One county in particular reached a terrible record of fatalities, according to WGCU. Lee County reached a staggering 123 deaths in 2022, more than double the amount of fatalities compared to the second-highest county.
The specific fatality that set the record took place after a crash on the side of the Caloosahatchee Bridge. While it was a localized occurrence, state officials say it reflects the overarching issues they’re dealing with in the state, including impatient and aggressive drivers, distracted driving and unbuckled vehicle occupants.
Georgia saw 1,786 road fatalities in 2022, a slight decrease from 2021.
And while 2022 proved troubling for fatalities, Georgia proved to already be off to a poor start in 2023 as well. There were an astonishing 19 fatalities from car crashes over New Year’s. And looking at the entire holiday season, the state saw a total of 32 fatalities — double last year’s count of 16.
Over the last few years, legislators have sought to institute changes that make the roads safer. The Georgia Department of Public Safety is now focusing on reducing the number of fatalities due to impaired driving, along with making more room for pedestrians and cyclists.
5. North Carolina
Finally, North Carolina had the fifth-highest number of fatalities in 2022. While the state’s numbers remained fairly stable — up 0.2% to 1,667 — the number of alcohol-related deaths were on the rise.
In the last year, alcohol was a factor in 22% of fatalities in the state.
Furthermore, in 2022, the number of crashes that caused injuries was higher than the four-year average. It’s been such an issue that the North Carolina Department of Transportation launched a campaign, dubbed “Booze It & Lose It,” which resulted in charges against 1,900 drivers for driving while intoxicated in 2021.
But drunk driving isn’t the only issue on North Carolina’s roads. There’s been a 15% increase in distracted driving behavior in just the last five years, which resulted in 117 fatalities in 2021.
Can these stats impact your insurance rates?
Beyond keeping yourself and your family safe, there's another reason to be aware of traffic statistics and to do what you can to mitigate traffic accidents and infractions.
More traffic accidents mean more insurance claims and the total number of car insurance claims in your state can impact the price you pay for auto insurance.
For example, New York and Florida have the highest average annual insurance rates for full coverage in the country at $4,769 and $4,326 respectively, according to Forbes. Forbes analysis also puts the national average cost of insurance at $2,118 a year for full coverage.
If you haven't looked at your policy in a while, you could be overpaying for insurance every month. And with the costs of car ownership still on the rise, your best chance to find savings is to spend a few minutes shopping around and comparing quotes online.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.