Traffic Deaths Rise Despite Covid Lockdowns

Fatalities grew in 27 states in the first half of 2020, despite a large drop in traffic volume during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Posted: 04/02/2021
 Motor Vehicle Accident    Personal Injury  

Over the first half of 2020, the rate of traffic deaths jumped with safety experts blaming drivers who sped up on roads left open when COVID-19 shut down businesses and limited driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, even small increases in speed (from 40 to 50 miles an hour for example) led to much deadlier motor vehicle accidents. As the pandemic lowered traffic, the rate of motor vehicle accident fatalities jumped by 18%, the highest in the last 12 years.

"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 safety agency said in a letter addressed to the nation's drivers.

Traffic deaths rose 0.5% during the first-quarter of 2020, but they fell 1.1% in the second quarter as coronavirus lockdowns restricted movement. Fatalities spiked 13.1% from July through September, as reported from NHTSA.

"We think the big culprit is speeding," said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association to the Associated Press. Early in the pandemic, drivers found open roads and drove faster. The behavior continued even as traffic volumes recovered, Adkins said.

Traffic congestion and rush hour traffic is down across the country according to the INRIX Traffic Scorecard. Billings, MT saw a drop of 27% in congestion between 2019 and 2020 making it the #138 most congested cities in the US. As the congestion drops, the peak speed increases from 27mph in 2019 to 30mph in 2020.

Now more than ever drivers need to wear their seat belts and reduce their speed in order to avoid a car accident and injuries.

Most Congested Cities in the US

The following data is presented from the INRIX Traffic Scorecard.

Ranking City
No. 1 New York City, NY
No. 2 Philadelphia, PA
No. 3 Chicago, IL
No. 4 Boston, MA
No. 5 Los Angeles, CA
No. 10 Dallas, TX
No. 50 Jacksonville, FL
No. 100 Macon, GA
No. 138 Billings, MT
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