The pandemic kept more people at home and off the roads. But a recent report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration uncovered disturbing and dangerous trends on driving habits and traffic fatalities from March to Sept. 2020. In an open letter, the NHTSA asked motorists to stop risking their lives in car accidents and prevent further strains on first responders.
Less frequent but more dangerous driving
The number of people who remained home rose to 28.1 percent from March to Sept. 2020 compared to 19.7 percent in April 2019. But traffic fatalities rose in 2020, more people who suffered injuries had drugs or alcohol in their system, motorists speeded more, and people used their seat belts less.
Over 28.190 were killed in car accidents from Jan. through Sept. 2020. This was a 4.6 percent increase from the same period in 2019 when there were 26,941 traffic fatalities, according to the NHTSA.
Average speeds on the nation’s roads increased. Speed rose, on average, by 22 percent in selected metropolitan areas during the pandemic. Large difference in speeds between motorists, called speed dispersion, is often associated with a higher likelihood of accidents.
Two-thirds of drivers who suffered serious injuries had at least one drug in their system during their accident, according to an accident injury study. These substances included alcohol, marijuana, or opioids.
This could be attributed to the rise in drug and alcohol sales during the pandemic, according to the report. Alcohol sales were approximately 20 percent higher than they were in 2019. Legal marijuana sales rose 35 percent in Colorado and 45 percent in Oregon.
In its open letter, the NHTSA asked drivers to stop risking their lives and prevent additional burdens for first responders and police. It pointed out that poor driving choices further jeopardize resources that are already spread thin and at risk.
Motorists were asked to continue to obey speed limits, drive sober and wear their seatbelts as the pandemic spreads into 2021.
An attorney can assist victims of an accident caused by a negligent or reckless driver obtain evidence and seek compensation and damages. They can help assure their interests are represented in court and negotiations.