Highway Fatality Rate Increased by 19% in 2020
As part of the state's Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) annually releases a performance report that highlights the changes in roadway accident severity year-over-year. The most recent report, released in 2021, showed that the fatality rate for the last five years has been trending significantly higher than previously. From 2019 to 2020, the fatality rate increased by about 19%; however, since 2012, the average year-over-year has only been about +2.56%.
So what is causing this steady increase? Here are a few factors to consider:
When looking at the five-year averages of factors influencing the number of fatalities on Kansas roads, where accidents are occurring plays a large role. Comparing 2012-2016 to 2016-2020 shows that there is a steady increase among accidents at intersections, local roads, and on roads with horizontal curves.
The reports indicate that older drivers and pedestrians are increasingly becoming more involved in accidents resulting in severe injuries and fatalities, while the teen rates are actually decreasing. Comparing the five-year averages from 2012-2016 and 2016-2020, the number of fatalities among individuals aged 65+ are 90 and 109.6, respectively.
Motorcycles/mopeds and large commercial vehicles involved in fatal accidents have also increased since 2012. For motorcyclists/mopeds, the five-year average number of fatalities was 46 from 2012-2016, while this has increased to 55.6 from 2016-2020; for commercial vehicles, these numbers are 64 and 81.2, respectively.
Looking ahead to 2022, the state is aiming for a fatality rate of 1.28, which would be about a 15.6% decrease from 2020. Although KDOT estimates that it is on track to achieve this, the statewide changes from 2021 (like return to in-person schooling and lifting curfews) may influence how effective the new HSIP may be.
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