CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that roadway deaths rose 7 percent during the first three months of the year across the country. In their recent report, 9,560 people across the country died in accidents on the road in the first quarter of 2022.

Nearly 43,000 people were killed on the U.S. roads last year, that’s the highest number in the last 16 years. 22News spoke to people who are concerned about distracted and impaired drivers on the roads.

“You’re going to get there regardless, it’s just like if you’re speeding you might not even get there,” said Victoria Nitu of West Springfield.

Roadway deaths have seen a meteoric rise since the pandemic began. Less people were on the roads during the COVID-19 lockdown but as things started to open up once again, the rate of traffic deaths increased.

“I think there’s too many people that drive fast. They don’t concern themselves with other people,” said Sam Maitia of West Springfield.

Before 2020 the number of fatalities had fallen for three consecutive years. Experts believe that this rise is due to speeding, impaired or distracting driving, and a decrease in seatbelt usage.

Nitu said, “You maybe following the rules and you may be doing everything on your end but you maybe get hit by somebody who’s not, maybe they didn’t see you or maybe they didn’t care about you. So it’s a big issue for me.”

According to MassDOT in 2021, Massachusetts had over 400 roadway deaths, the highest amount in more than 11 years.

“I think you should be careful I think that people that are driving should be careful of other people. Kids are going back to school they should be careful about them,” said Maitia.

Experts say that the best rule of thumb when you’re heading out on the road is to practice defensive driving, wear a seatbelt and to never drive under the influence.