Traffic deaths surged to the highest rate in over a decade in 2020 as riskier driving behavior surged despite fewer vehicles on the road due to the pandemic. A newly released report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows men accounted for three out of every four deaths in distracted driving accidents that year.
While men were in the driver’s seat most of the time, only 13% used a cell phone when accidents occurred. Other common distractions were eating, reaching for moving items, reading and other passengers. According to NHTSA, distracted driving accounted for more than 3,100 fatalities and nearly 325,000 injuries in 2020.
The five top car accident causes
While distracted driving crashes continue to rise across New Jersey and the rest of the nation, four other causes are responsible for more deaths. The top five are:
- Alcohol-related accidents
- Leaving traffic lanes
- Failure to yield right of way
- Distracted driving
Overall, 38,824 people died in traffic accidents nationwide in 2020, the highest number since 2007. In New Jersey, 584 deaths were reported, an increase of 4.7%. That same year, alcohol-related crash deaths surged by over 17% in the Garden State.
Why do more men die in crashes?
The NHTSA report says 2,125 men died in distracted driving accidents in 2020, compared to 781 women. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says the reason is that men are more likely to exhibit risky behaviors while driving, such as:
- Drinking and driving
- Not wearing their seat belts
The IIHS says crashes involving men are often more severe than those involving women drivers. However, women are more likely to die than men in equally severe crashes.