American Driving in 2021: Reckless and Wreckful

Evidence continues to pile up that the twin historic disasters of 2020—the dreaded Covid pandemic and the celebrated racial reckoning—have left Americans crazier and lazier.

Last week, I reported that my tabulation of year-end homicide counts from 44 of the 50 biggest cities found that killings were up 45 percent in 2021 versus 2019. This week, I find from a sample of 30 states and selected cities that have already reported year-end traffic fatalities that car crash deaths grew 17 percent from 2019 to 2021. Those are both unusually huge two-year increases.

All in all, America’s new normal is a pretty miserable one.

Here’s my collection of 30 early reporting states and a half-dozen cities in the other 20 states that haven’t yet posted their 2021 traffic deaths online or released them to local news media. Together, these places comprise 56 percent of the U.S. population.

Traffic deaths during the new normal 2021 were higher than during the old normal 2019 in 25 of the 30 states and five of the six cities. The five states that saw death declines are smallish ones.

What’s going on on the roads?

In 2020, the quantity of miles driven dropped versus 2019, which should have reduced car deaths, but the quality of driving plummeted. Total miles driven declined 13 percent due to lockdowns and work-from-home, while deaths per million miles driven went up an insane 23 percent, leading to a 7 percent overall increase in car crash deaths.

In 2021, miles driven rebounded to only a few percent less than in 2019. Yet, despite the return of traffic, deaths per million miles continued at nearly the same reckless (and thus wreckful) rate as 2020, improving by only a few percent.

When everything shut down in the spring of 2020, some drivers took advantage of the empty streets and the suddenly reclusive police to drive like bats out of hell. For example, despite no doubt wanting to socially distance in 2020, the Utah Highway Patrol wound up issuing 31 percent more tickets than in 2019 to drivers speeding over 100 miles per hour (160 kilometers per hour: That may seem like a reasonable velocity to German autobahn enthusiasts, but Americans are less competent behind the wheel).

Despite the worse driving, American cops prudently ticketed drivers less. To take a random example from the Indianapolis Star:

 

Overall, Indiana State Police issued about 25,000 fewer speeding tickets in 2020 than 2019, a 41.1% decrease.

Similarly, WSHU in Connecticut reported:

For both state and local police, the combined number of stops statewide dropped from 512,000 in 2019 to about 188,000 in 2021.

Thus, the number of motorists killed by being ejected, perhaps the most spectacular way to go, increased 20 percent in 2020 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Not only did drivers get crazier, they also got lazier, often not bothering to buckle their seat belt: Deaths with an unbuckled seat belt were up 15 percent.

It was widely assumed that legalizing marijuana would cut down on drunk driving, but instead Americans seem to be driving more both drunk and high. KIRO notes:

In Washington state, about 60% of the fatal crashes in 2020 involved impaired drivers. [Washington State Police] says an increasing number of DUI crashes are involving multiple substances, alcohol and marijuana in particular.

Then, upon hearing the news of George Floyd’s death in late May 2020, the Establishment decided that America’s most pressing problem was too much law and order. That may have turned what might have been a temporary problem with bad driving into an enduring one.

The impact of the racial reckoning on black driving is shocking (although still almost unknown). As I broke the news in Taki’s last June by carefully examining an NHTSA report on deaths by race, in the past seven months of 2020, blacks died in wrecks 36 percent more often than in the same period in 2019. For the rest of the population, the increase was 9 percent.

Why did blacks get themselves into so many bloodbaths, both with guns and with cars, as soon as the nation’s cops figured out in June 2020 that elites were itching to turn them into the Face of White Supremacy over some Traffic Stop Gone Wrong?

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