Michigan traffic deaths hit 16-year high in 2021, injuries up 17%

Construction zone fatalities up 43% from last year

I-96 in Oakland County.

New data shows Michigan traffic-related deaths rose to a 16-year high in 2021.

Data released by the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center showed Michigan traffic deaths peaked above 1,100 in 2021, a 4% rise from 2020.

The 1,131 fatalities in 2021 marked the most traffic fatalities in Michigan since 1,129 deaths in 2005.

As traffic fatalities went up 4 percent in 2021 from 1,083 deaths in 2020, the number of injuries, crashes and serious injuries increased by double-digit percentage points:

  • Injuries: Up 17% from 2020
  • Crashes: Up 15% from 2020
  • Suspected serious injuries: Up 10% from 2020

The percentage of alcohol-involved fatalities increased by 10 percent from 326 deaths in 2020 to 357 in 2021. This represents 31 percent of all traffic fatalities for the year.

Related: List of Michigan’s 10 most dangerous roads

“Unfortunately, there was a steady rise in traffic crashes and injuries during 2021, and we are determined to turn those numbers around and save more lives,” said Alicia Sledge, interim director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP). “The OHSP will be coordinating high-visibility enforcement campaigns this summer focusing on impaired driving, speed and seat belt use to help reverse the trends we are seeing.”

Other key data points:

Bicycle fatalities dropped to 29 in 2021, down 24 percent, from 38 in 2020.  In nearly every other category, there was in increases in fatalities:

- Motorcyclist fatalities increased from 152 in 2020 to 166 in 2021, up 9 percent.

- Pedestrian fatalities increased from 175 in 2020 to 183 in 2021, up 5 percent.

- Commercial motor vehicle-involved fatalities increased from 78 in 2020 to 103 in 2021, up 32 percent.

- Deer-involved fatalities increased from 5 in 2020 to 10 in 2021, up 100 percent.

- Construction zone fatalities increased from 14 in 2020 to 20 in 2021, up 43 percent. 

- Distracted-involved fatalities increased from 52 in 2020 to 59 in 2021, up 13 percent.

Fully detailed data will be released later this year.

Related: Study identifies 3 deadliest highways for summer travel in Michigan


About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.