On October 1, 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a preliminary report examining car accident fatality rates for the first half of 2020. Based on the preliminary data, the report suggests that car accident death rates may increase over the rest of the year. If this occurs, 2020 will break a recent projected trend of declining car accident fatality rates in the United States. The NHTSA suggested several reasons for the increase in fatality rates, such as an increase in risky driving behavior during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Details of the NHTSA Data
In the released report, the NHTSA examined preliminary data for the first half of 2020 and compared it to the previous year. While overall traffic fatalities decreased in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019, there was a greater decrease in traffic volume over the same period.
Specifically, while motor vehicle fatalities decreased by 3.3 percent in the second quarter of 2020 compared to 2019, traffic volume fell over 16 percent by the same comparison. From this data, the NHTSA determined that an average of 1.25 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) occurred in the first half of 2020, which is about 16 percent greater than the 1.06 deaths per million VMT for the same span in 2019
Explanations for the Increased Fatality Rate
When discussing why fatality rates may have increased in 2020, NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens stated that drivers might have been more likely to engage in reckless driving behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, preliminary data suggests that drivers may be more likely to speed due to roads being more open during quarantine and shelter-in-place orders. A separate NHTSA study found that drivers may be more likely to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the pandemic. The NHTSA found that nearly 65 percent of drivers admitted to trauma centers tested positive for marijuana, alcohol, or opioid use.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney to Learn More
Unfortunately, these statistics may represent real consequences for you and your family. If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, an experienced attorney from O’Connor, Acciani, & Levy could review your case and help you hold negligent or reckless parties accountable. To speak to a knowledgeable car accident lawyer, contact us today.