Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, fatal car crashes have seen a steady increase. In the first half of 2021, a projected 20,160 people died in traffic accidents compared to a 17,020 fatalities projected in the first half of 2020. This represents a nationwide increase of 18.4 percent, becoming the largest half year increase in the history of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s reporting system. The proportion of crash victims who suffered serious enough injuries that they have to be transported to a trauma center has also remained above 2019 levels.
These alarming statistics have led to millions in federal grant money being given to Indiana Police Departments to try to stop reckless driving. The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute gave Indianapolis Metropolitan Police $1.5 million, Indiana State Police $1 million, and about 200 other Indiana Police Departments $4 million after a round of disbursements in October that coincided with the data release from the NHTSA.
Indiana Vehicle Accident Fatality Estimates
In Indiana alone, an estimated 683 people have died as of early October. This number is comparable to last year’s number of 813 but shows an overall increase of eight percent from 2019. If the numbers continue to follow this trajectory, Indiana is on track to surpass its record high number of 900 fatalities in a year. Marion County accounts for most of the accidents according to the breakdown done by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. As of October 9, there were 115 deaths this year compared to last year’s 108 deaths. This is a small increase, but a 34 percent increase over 2019’s 86 traffic deaths.
The ICJI will use the funding it gave to police departments, an annual program using NHSTA money, to uphold “zero tolerance” overtime patrols and sobriety checkpoints. This will occur mostly during specific enforcement periods over the year, the first of which took place during the annual Safe Family Travel campaign around Thanksgiving.
This grant money is used each year by Indiana State Police to staff various “Operation Pull Over” campaigns that happen throughout the year. They target issues such as driving under the influence, wearing a seatbelt, and aggressive driving.
Concern Over Speeding
These campaigns may help address the concerning eight percent death increase, considering that overall traffic on the road decreased by 13 percent. According to research, speeding has gotten much worse and is an issue of concern. During the pandemic months of 2020, the slowest one percent of drivers increased their average speed on interstate highways from a range of 50-52 mph to 57-63 mph. However, in June this group of drivers has steadily decreased its average to 54 mph. The fastest one percent continue to speed on pace. Pre-pandemic they were driving about 63 mph on highways, followed by 64 mph in 2020, and slowly increasing above 65 mph in 2021.
These statistics are estimates and the total 2021 numbers regarding fatalities and the severity of crashes will be finalized in 2022. In the meantime, if you or a loved one were involved in a traffic accident in Indiana, call our firm today to receive the support you need and the compensation you deserve.