Even though fewer miles were logged in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns, the number of traffic fatalities in 2020 rose, according to new research released b the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA said that the spike was largely due to dangerous driving.

Traffic Deaths During 2020

The preliminary NHTSA data shows that 28,190 people died in traffic crashes during the first nine months in 2020, compared to 26,941 during the same period in 2019. This was a 4.6% increase. The NHTSA data shows an initial 0.6 percent increase during the first quarter of 2020, followed by a 1.1 percent fall in the second quarter, and then a sudden spike of 13.1 percent during the third quarter. This higher number of traffic fatalities still occurred despite a 16.6 percent decrease in the number of miles traveled from the first six months of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. Official numbers will not be released until the fall of 2021.

Why Fatalities Increased Despite COVID Lockdowns

Dangerous driving behaviors are the main culprit for the higher number of traffic fatalities, according to the NHTSA. Experts report that many drivers responded to more open roads by speeding during the early part of the pandemic. Recent reports indicate a 22 percent increase in speeds in several metropolitan areas, compared to the 2019 pre-pandemic speeds. Drivers continued this risky behavior even as lockdowns eased and the number of motorists on the roads increased. Further spurring this activity may be a lack of enforcement with many states indicating that traffic stops have decreased during the pandemic.

Another dangerous driving behavior that contributed to the number of pandemic traffic accidents was impaired driving. One study revealed that 65 percent of drivers treated at trauma centers who were injured in serious crashes had drugs or alcohol in their systems in 2020, compared to 50.6 for pre-pandemic numbers.

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Furthermore, the NHTSA points to fewer people wearing seat belts.

How Our Houston Car Accident Lawyers Can Help You

At The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian™, we care about your safety. If you were injured in a COVID car accident or lost a loved one in a fatal car crash due to the dangerous driving of another motorist, we can help. We will thoroughly investigate your accident and identify all of the factors that contributed to it. We will work tirelessly to hold the negligent party accountable for their actions. Our experienced car accident lawyers have served the Houston community since 2004 and have achieved real results for thousands of people just like you. We are available extended hours during the COVID-19 crisis. Contact our experienced legal team to learn more about your rights and options.