Car Accident Fatality Rate up 8% During Pandemic

 Pandemic lockdowns and stay-at-home orders kept many drivers off U.S. roads and highways last year. But those who did venture out found wide-open roads which saw an increase in unsafe driving, and thus fatalities, during the pandemic.

The nonprofit National Safety Council estimates in a report about car crashes in 2020 that 42,060 people died in vehicle crashes in 2020, an 8% increase over 2019 and the first jump in four years. According to the National Safety Council, the three biggest causes of fatalities on the road are alcohol, speeding, and lack of seat belt use.

Plus, the fatality rate per 100 million miles driven spiked 24%, the largest annual percentage increase since the council began collecting data in 1923. These fatalities are directly linked to reckless driving.

“It’s kind of terrifying what we’re seeing on our roads,” said Michael Hanson, director of the Minnesota Public Safety Department’s Office of Traffic Safety. “We’re seeing a huge increase in the amount of risk-taking behavior.”

To date, Oregon car accident fatalities are up 24% from last year.

Even though traffic is now getting close to pre-coronavirus levels, the bad behavior on the roads is continuing, authorities say. “It’s kind of terrifying what we're seeing on our roads,” said Michael Hanson, director of the Minnesota Public Safety Department’s Office of Traffic Safety. “We’re seeing a huge increase in the amount of risk-taking behavior."

“The pandemic appears to be taking our eyes off the ball when it comes to traffic safety,” Kolosh said.

Of the reckless behaviors, early data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show speed to be the top factor, Also, tests of trauma center patients involved in traffic crashes show increased use of alcohol, marijuana and opioids, he said.

:Almost immediately the fatality rate started to go up, and go up significantly,” Hanson said, adding that his counterparts in other states saw similar increases. “It created less congestion and a lot more lane space for divers to use, and quite honestly, to abuse out there.”

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