Although there were far less drivers traveling on U.S. roads in 2020 because of the pandemic lock downs, the traffic deaths have greatly increased. The National Safety Council recently reported that 42,060 people died in vehicle crashes in 2020. This figure was an 8% increase over 2019 and the first jump up in traffic deaths in four years. Last year’s deaths were the most since 2007 when 43,945 people were killed in vehicle crashes.
Plus, the fatality rate per 100 million miles driver spiked up 24% which is the largest annual percentage increase since 1923. In addition, approximately 4.8 million people were injured in vehicle crashes last year.
These grizzly numbers are due to fewer vehicles on the road, allowing drivers to take huge risks with increased speeding. The open lanes because of less traffic have led to higher speeds and more risky behavior by drivers.
Federal data shows that Americans drove 13% fewer miles last year which is roughly 2.8 trillion miles of less driving. However, the alarming increase in deaths is primarily due to speed, along with increased use of alcohol, marijuana and opioids
In late March and early April of 2020, the number of speed-related fatalities more than doubled over the same period in 2019 in Minnesota. Drivers use the empty roads to drive at extreme speeds. For example in 2019 in Minnesota, State Troopers handed out 500 tickets for drivers going over 100 mph. In 2020 that number rose to 1,068 tickets for speeding over 100 mph. The high number of speeding drivers is continuing even when increased traffic is returning to pre-pandemic levels.
My own personal experiences driving in the Bay Area have found that where 70 mph used to be the high speed of drivers in the fast lanes of freeways before the pandemic, now 80 mph and over is the average speed of the fast lane drivers. Even at that high speed, very often vehicles weave in and out of traffic at speeds over 100 mph. This terrifying risky behavior is the cause of the huge increase in traffic fatalities.
Lewis Van Blois is a skilled and experienced attorney specializing in car accidents, truck accidents and dangerous road accidents.
Lewis Van Blois
Oakland / Walnut Creek / San Jose / Stockton / Modesto
Car Accident Attorney
Oakland: (510) 635-1284
Modesto/Stockton: (209) 478-2400
San Jose: (408) 943-8820
Walnut Creek: (925) 947-1055