By Erin Tucker
It seems counterintuitive, but in spite of the coronavirus lockdown and curtailed driving as people work from home and travel less, during the first nine months of 2020 US traffic accident deaths rose 4.6%.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the first three months of 2020, deaths increased only 0.6%. In the second quarter they actually dropped by 1.1%, but in July, August and September the number of automotive deaths jumped 13.1%. The result is that in the first three quarters of last year, an estimated 28,190 people have been killed.
Indications are that although fewer people were driving, with relatively light traffic, those who were on the road tended to drive faster and take more risks. Executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, Jonathan Adkins’ guess is that as the months passed and traffic began to return to more normal levels, speeders didn’t slow down.
Lack of law enforcement was a big factor, he said. "We are hearing from many states that traffic stops have declined during COVID-19. Drivers feel like they can speed and get away with it."
Recent reports from metropolitan areas show a 22% increase in vehicle speeds over pre-pandemic numbers. Another study found that 65% of drivers treated at trauma centers who had been hurt in serious vehicular accidents had drugs or alcohol in their systems, compared to 50.6% before the pandemic. The NHTSA also said fewer people are wearing seat belts.
Once again we (and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) are reminding you to wear your seat belts . . . and slow down! Don’t drive if you have drugs or alcohol in your system, and make sure your children are buckled into appropriately-sized child safety seats.
As always, if you need us, we’re here.
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