The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has revealed that the first nine months of 2020, which included the most intense period in which the coronavirus lockdown was in place, showed an increase in the number of traffic-related fatalities compared to the same period in 2019. This is despite a general decrease in traffic- or, as the NHTSA proposes, it may in fact be because of the lightened traffic. In addition, there were increased signs of drivers being under the influence of alcohol or other mind-altering substances during this time period.
Looking at the Statistics
An estimated 28,190 people died as a result of traffic fatalities across the United States during the first nine months of 2020. This is up from 26,941 traffic fatalities during the same period in 2019, a 4.6% increase over the previous year. This is despite the number of cars on the road decreasing by as much as half during this period of time.
The increase in traffic deaths was not across the board, however. They rose slightly in the first quarter of 2020, a mere 0.6% compared to 2019, and actually dropped by 1.1% during the second quarter as quarantines intensified. It was when travel restrictions began to relax that the number of traffic fatalities began to skyrocket, with the number of traffic fatalities going up by more than 11% in the third quarter of 2020.
What Caused This Increase in Traffic Fatalities?
The number one culprit for the increase in traffic deaths has been identified simply as speeding. In effect, the emptier roads that resulted from coronavirus-related traffic restrictions led to more people speeding and engaging in reckless driving habits. On top of that, police departments relaxed enforcement of speed limits, leading many people to believe they could speed and get away with it, increasing the risk and severity of potential accidents.
In addition, emergency rooms that treated victims of traffic accidents found a large increase in the number of patients who had alcohol or drugs in their systems. In a normal year, about half of all drivers treated in such accidents test positive for intoxicants, but in 2020 that number skyrocketed to 65%. This apparent increase in driving while under the influence of intoxicating substances has led to a greater risk of accidents and more fatalities.
What Can Be Done to Reverse This Trend?
First and foremost, drivers need to remember to obey traffic laws, regardless of how empty the road is. Additionally, the NHTSA has promised to step up enforcement of traffic laws to catch speeders and other violators before they cause an accident. There is also a need to remind people not to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, for both their safety and the safety of those around them.
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, seeking the advice from an attorney experienced in personal injury law will help assure you get the compensation you deserve. The lawyers at Levine and Slavit, PLLC assist clients in collecting the damages they need to cope with being the victim of negligence. For more information or to schedule a consultation with our New York personal injury lawyers, call (888) LAW-8088 or fill out our contact form.