There is a normal relationship between how many miles people drive and how many car accidents there are. For example, lower gas prices have long been associated with a rise in highway fatalities, because cheap gas means more driving.
One of the few bright spots associated with people staying home because of the pandemic was that fewer people were supposed to die in fatal car accidents. However, new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that the benefits of less driving are not being realized.
More Dangerous Driving
The numbers from the first three months of 2021 show an increase in deadly car crashes when compared to the first three months of 2020. The reason for the increase, according to regulators, is that more drivers are engaging in dangerous behaviors.
More drunk driving, more speeding, fewer people buckling up, and other unsafe driving practices mean that more people are dying in car accidents. This is true even though drivers traveled fewer miles than in 2020.
Trending in the Wrong Direction
2020 saw the most traffic deaths since 2007. 2021 looks to be even worse. Deaths were up more than 10 percent. Miles driven was down more than 2 percent. If it feels like people are becoming worse at driving, the numbers are there to back up that feeling.
Are the Roads Too Open?
Commuting during the pandemic has been less of a burden. Traffic jams are less common. Once crowded roads can feel nearly abandoned. That might be causing some drivers to throw caution to the wind.
If you expect to see other vehicles on the road, you might be less willing to drive 20 mph over the speed limit. If you’ve had a few drinks, you might be more willing to get a ride home if you expect other people to share the road with you. Aggressive driving and impaired driving might not seem so risky if the driver thinks he’ll have the road to himself.
A Drop in Traffic Enforcement
Right or wrong, there is also a perception that police are less likely to make a traffic stop thanks to the pandemic. Drivers might feel emboldened to go an extra 5 mph over the limit, or worry about staying in their lane a little less if they think the police will let them slide. A perceived absence of law enforcement leads to a less safe driving experience for everyone.
Helping Car Accident Victims
When a negligent driver injures you or a loved one, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. Schedule a free initial consultation with a lawyer at Ted B. Lyon & Associates in Dallas by calling 800-TedLyon or contact us online.