Although the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in fewer cars on the road, traffic-related fatalities soared. Many states issued stay-at-home orders, and businesses let their employees work remotely. However, that didn’t stop people from getting in their vehicles and driving recklessly.
Some evidence shows drivers were more likely to ignore safety precautions during the pandemic. Many people stopped wearing their seatbelts, exceeded the speed limit, and drove under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This dangerous behavior became common despite experts’ beliefs that the occurrence of fatal accidents would plummet.
Fatal Car Accidents Are on the Rise
The estimated number of fatalities in motor vehicle accidents was 12 percent higher between January and September 2021 than in the same months in 2020. The Transportation Department started recording fatal crashes in 1975, and this has been the highest percentage increase in any nine-month period since then.
The nine-month period in 2021 saw 31,720 deaths, the highest number since 2006. During this time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed an increase in traffic-related deaths in 38 states.
The Western and Southern portions of the country, such as Texas, Idaho, and Nevada, were among the states reporting the most fatalities. Only ten states and the District of Columbia experienced a decline, while the figures in two states remained stable.
A National Safety Council researcher thought deadly crashes would decrease significantly in 2021. A possible explanation for the increase in fatalities is the ongoing stress many Americans have felt since the pandemic began. They have been releasing their frustration, fear, and anxieties on the road instead of in a healthy way.
What the Numbers Say
The Federal Highway Administration showed a decline in vehicle miles traveled by around 430.2 billion miles in 2020. However, the NHTSA reported an estimated 38,680 people died in traffic accidents the same year, the largest number since 2007. The figure represents about a 7.2 percent increase from the previous year.
Analysis by the NHTSA found a range of factors contributing to the increase in traffic fatalities, such as:
- Occupant ejection
- Driving at night
- Rollover crashes
- Alcohol use
- Driving on the weekends
- Operating vehicles at least ten years old
What Might Be Causing the Increase
Recklessness is a common reason cited for more deadly collisions during COVID. Many people believed they were safer on the roads since they encountered less traffic. This resulted in carelessness and inattention at the wheel. When drivers exhibit repeated actions without consequence, they become a habit, and drivers are more likely to continue with that behavior.
The skyrocketing statistics also line up with other trends during the pandemic, such as higher alcohol sales, homicides, and drug overdoses. After spending many months trapped at home, erratic driving is a form of excitement during an otherwise mundane day. It helps to relieve the tension and anxiety often felt during a crisis.
Motorists who usually took the necessary safety precautions and followed traffic laws took more risks during the lockdowns. Some texted while driving or aggressively changed lanes, while others sped on residential streets or drove after smoking marijuana.
How We Could Help
The award-winning New York car accident attorneys at The Mandel Law Firm are ready to fight for you. When you hire us, we will advocate for your rights and aggressively pursue the compensation you deserve. You won’t have to face the complicated legal process alone. You can count on us to provide the support, guidance, and representation necessary to hold the negligent driver liable for your injury.
If you were injured in a car accident in NYC due to someone else’s negligent actions, call The Mandel Law Firm at (646) 770-3868 for a free consultation. Let us help you seek the money you’re owed so you can recover and move forward with your life.