Being on roads is getting a lot more deadly in New Hampshire.
The number of people killed in traffic crashes in the state has risen 29% this year compared to the same period last year, according to State Police. Fatalities through Sept. 6 increased among drivers and occupants of vehicles (65 deaths compared to 51 last year) as well as motorcyclists (23 deaths compared to 17) and pedestrians (7 deaths compared to 5) and bicyclists (2 deaths compared to none at this time last year).
This increase continues a pattern of rising deaths due to vehicle crashes seen in New Hampshire since the pandemic ended. In 2021, 118 people were killed on state roads, compared to 104 in 2020 and 99 in 2019.
New Hampshire is not alone. The number of traffic-related deaths in the U.S. has soared since the pandemic began, ending a long trend of declining numbers of traffic fatalities. Nearly 43,000 people were killed on U.S. roads in 2021, the highest number in 16 years.
According to QuoteWizard, an insurance website, the spike in traffic deaths this year was even worse in Vermont, where they have risen 40% in the first half of the year, and Maine, where they soared 52%.
Various explanations are offered for this increase, including more speeding and reckless driving after the pandemic changes people’s habits. Larger vehicles, especially pickup trucks and SUVs, contribute as well: For example, a study from the University of Illinois found that children are eight times as likely to die if hit by an SUV rather than a sedan.