Motor vehicle deaths increased by 8% in 2020 despite fewer people on the roads due to COVID-19 lockdowns, according to a report released by the National Safety Council (NSC). Officials with the nonprofit told ABC News that the wide-open roads appear to have given drivers an open invitation to engage in reckless driving. NSC, which focuses on promoting safety in the United States, said in its report that in spite of a 13% decrease in miles driven in 2020, the estimated rate of death on roads last year spiked 24% over the previous 12-month period.
Increase in Reckless Driving
The death rate underscores the nation’s persistent failure to prioritize road safety, which became emptier but deadlier, the NSC said in a news release. The states saw increases in speeding, distracted driving, and in some cases, increases in impaired driving. In April 2020, the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) said state highway officials across the country reported a severe spike in speeding.
Preliminary data from the NSC showed that as many as 42,060 people died in traffic accidents in 2020 compared to 39,107 fatalities in 2019. Seven states and the District of Columbia saw more than 15% increases in traffic accident fatalities, including Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont. Only nine states saw a drop in traffic accident deaths, NSC said.
Earlier this year, the NSC and other agencies called on the Biden administration to commit to zero roadway deaths by 2050. NSC also asks federal agencies to embrace vehicle crash avoidance technology and implement a safe system approach to roadway design. Safety advocates say safety features such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning systems – now widely available technology – should not be found just in luxury or high-end vehicles.
What to Do If You Are Injured
If a reckless or negligent driver has injured you or a loved one, please remember you have legal rights. Make sure you file a police report and obtain a copy of that report for your records. You must also secure prompt medical attention, treatment and care for your injuries.
Collect as much evidence from the scene, including information about other parties’ auto insurance, driver’s license and contact information, and eyewitness information. Getting an experienced California car accident lawyer on your side early on in the process is crucial so your legal rights and best interests will be protected.