The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) reported some disturbing numbers regarding 2020 traffic deaths. The administration reported an estimated 38,680 traffic fatalities in 2020, which was the highest number since 2007. It also reflects a 7.2 percent as compared to the 36,096 fatalities reported in 2019.
These numbers are so disturbing because there were so many less motorists on the road in 2020 due to the pandemic. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) shows vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2020 decreased by about 430.2 billion miles, or about a 13.2-percent decrease. If there were fewer drivers on the road, why was it so much more dangerous to drive?
According to the NHTSA report driving patterns and behaviors changed significantly, and that drivers who remained on the roads engaged in more risky behavior, including speeding, failing to wear seat belts, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Traffic data indicates that average speeds increased throughout the year, and examples of extreme speeds became more common, while the evidence also shows that fewer people involved in crashes used their seat belts.
My unscientific opinion is that drivers felt more emboldened to partake in the above risky behaviors because no one else was out on the roads. Or, certain drivers may have believed that with fewer drivers around them, there would be less police out looking for speeders. Whatever the reason for this behavior, it is a worrisome trend. All the numbers and statistics I have posted over last several years tended to point the finger at distracted driving as the main cause of increased fatalities. The NHTSA believes 2020 that it was more than distracted driving. It was clearly outright reckless speeding and drinking and driving. Let’s all hope that 2020 was an anomaly and drivers begin using more basic caution like wearing seatbelts, putting their phones down and driving a reasonable speed.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago truck accident, then call Chicago injury lawyers at the Bryant Law Group for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.