GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In Michigan and across the country, traffic deaths were at a 16-year high in 2021.

Data released from the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center shows that there were 1,131 traffic deaths in 2021. This is the highest number of traffic deaths since 2005 which saw 1,129 traffic fatalities.

“The Michigan numbers mirror the national numbers,” Kendall Wingrove, spokesman for the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, said. “NITHS (National Institute of Traffic Highway Safety) recently released estimates that nationally, traffic fatalities are at their highest since the exact same year 2005.”

MSP said that the number of alcohol-involved fatalities increased by 10% from 2020. Traffic deaths involving alcohol represents 31% of all traffic fatalities in 2021.

The data released also shows other traffic fatality increases involved motorcyclists (9%), pedestrians (5%), commercial motor vehicles (32%), deer (100%), construction zones (43%) and distracted driving (13%).

“We live in a society where people try to multi-task, which of course is a fiction. You cannot do two or three things all at the same time and do them well. When you’re operating a several-ton vehicle, that’s a really bad time to be multi-tasking,” Wingrove said.

In addition to an increase in deaths, there was also an increase in the number of injuries (17%), crashes (15%) and suspected serious injuries (10%) in 2021, MSP said.

“There is no single cause that we can identify. It’s just a lot of little things all combined,” Wingrove said. “…(but) there’s more daredevils, there are more people speeding (and) people are making very poor decisions.”

To help decrease the number of traffic fatalities, OHSP has increased its advertising budget for the whole fiscal year to help educate the public so they can make better decisions.

“We understand people have busy lives, we understand people enjoy celebrations and have lifestyles, what we’re trying to do is have them make wiser decisions – particularly if you are over 21 and decide to use alcohol,” Wingrove said. “We don’t give lectures to people on whether they should drink, our only message is ‘don’t get behind the wheel.'”

The simplest thing you can do the next time you’re in the car, according to Wingrove, is to use a seatbelt “every trip, every time.”

State police said more detailed information will be posted to MichiganTrafficCrashFacts.org and Michigan.gov/crash in the coming months.