Massachusetts road deaths hit an 11-year high in 2021. 2022 could be even more

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MassDOT officials are concerned about the state’s high number of car crash deaths.

Road deaths in Massachusetts reached an 11-year high in 2021, and current trends suggest the number of road deaths in 2022 could reach even higher, the State House News Service reported Wednesday.

The state Department of Transportation has found, according to preliminary data, that there were 172 road deaths in Massachusetts from January 1 to June 15 this year, SHNS reported. That’s 10 more deaths than the same period last year.

The real number could be even higher. SHNS reports that a MassDOT spokesperson said the initial number may be understated because several police investigations into the deaths are still ongoing.

In 2021, Massachusetts unfortunately saw more than 400 road deaths. That’s the highest amount in more than 11 years, and a 22% increase from 2020, Transportation Secretary Jamie Tesler said during a MassDOT board meeting on Wednesday.

SHNS reports that state transportation and public safety officials are trying to raise awareness of the problem and encourage people to use seat belts.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing a seat belt in a vehicle reduces the risk of fatal injury by 45%, and reduces the risk of moderate to serious injury by 50%. For trucks, these numbers increase to 60% and 65%, respectively.

But MassDOT board member Dean Mazarella believes officials should do more, SHNS reported. Mazzarella said at the end of a meeting on Wednesday that he’s seeing people driving 90 and 100 mph and turning in lanes, SHNS reported.

“The speeds people travel and are aggressive – and I realize distracted driving is responsible for a lot of accidents – but I’ve never seen anything like this before, and I’m not sure if it’s a result of the pandemic,” Mazarella said.

Speed ​​is an important factor in the severity of car accident injuries. An article published by EMC Insurance in 2019 said that studies show that the risk of dying in a car accident increases dramatically with the speed of the driver.

The article reads: “For every 10 miles per hour of increased speed, the risk of death in a crash doubles.” “In practical terms, increasing the driving speed from 60 mph to 80 mph increases the risk of a fatal crash by 4 times.”

SHNS reports that Tesler told Mazzarella that his concerns about driver speed are reflected in MassDOT’s road fatality data.

“We are exploring all the avenues we can use to spread awareness, change behavior and remind drivers,” he said.

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