We are one year into the coronavirus pandemic, and a lot of things have changed. Despite a reduction in traffic volume in Illinois (and across the country) because of lockdowns, data shows that there was a 4.6 percent increase in traffic fatalities in the first nine months of 2020.
The data was released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and it encompasses January through September 2020. The statistics for the full year will not be available until the fall of 2021. According to the data, there were 28,190 people killed across the country for those nine months in 2020 compared to 26,941 for the same nine months in 2019.
Authorities have blamed the increase in traffic fatalities on the risky behavior of drivers. There have been fewer crashes but emergency agencies have seen more serious accidents. With less traffic volume, drivers have been speeding at much higher rates than usual.
“Preliminary data tells us that during the national health emergency, fewer Americans drove, but those who did took more risks and had more fatal crashes,” the NHTSA wrote in an open letter to America’s motorists.
A range of issues contribute to the increased percentages of fatal accidents
The first quarter of 2020 experienced a 0.6% increase in traffic deaths. When lockdowns went into place in March, they helped reduce the percentage of traffic deaths by 1.1% in the second quarter of the year. However, the NHTSA said that traffic fatalities jumped by 13.1% from July through September.
“We think the big culprit is speeding,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “A big factor here is the lack of enforcement. 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 data from the NHTSA shows an increase in speeds of 22% in multiple metropolitan areas compared to numbers from before the pandemic. The NHTSA also found that 65% of patients treated at trauma centers in the past year had alcohol or drugs in their system. That number was 50.6% before the pandemic. The NHTSA also mentioned that fewer people are wearing seat belts right now.
The NHTSA’s open letter is asking drivers to be careful
The NHTSA issued an open letter to the country’s drivers:
Now, more than ever, we should practice safe driving and encouraging others to do the same. It’s irresponsible and illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which not only puts your life at risk but the lives of others. Please wear your seat belt—it is the single most effective step you can take to protect yourself in a crash—and make sure your family buckles up and that children are in the right car seat for their size. And please remember that most serious crashes involve excessive speed; speed limits are in place for the safety of all road users.
Did you or a loved one suffer an injury in a Chicago car accident? It’s important to protect yourself following a crash that leaves you injured.. The experienced Chicago car accident attorneys at Gainsberg Law P.C., understand the challenges of paying for medical care after an accident. Call our office at 312-600-9585, or complete a contact form today to schedule an appointment.