Less traffic due to pandemic started season of reckless driving, National Safety Council says
Motor vehicle fatality rates jumped 14% in March despite quarantines
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council show that as Americans began driving less and covering fewer miles, the emptier roads became more lethal.
“Disturbingly, we have open lanes of traffic and an apparent open season on reckless driving,” said Lorraine M. Martin, CEO of the National Safety Council.
Through the first three months of 2020, the following states have experienced notable increases in the number of roadway deaths: Arkansas (16%), California (8%), Connecticut (42%), Illinois (11%), Louisiana (23%), Nevada (10%), New York (17%), North Carolina (10%), Oklahoma (9%), Tennessee (6%) and Texas (6%).
Georgia has 6 more deaths on record than the same time last year, a 4.5% increase for the state. Meanwhile Florida is showing a 9.9% decrease in the number of roadway deaths.
The NSC said additional insight is needed to determine the alarming rise in death rates in states. Anecdotal reports indicate speeding, for example, has increased significantly since traffic diminished.
“Right now, in the midst of a global pandemic and crisis, we should take it as our civic duty to drive safely. If we won’t do it for ourselves, we should do it for our first responders, our law enforcement and our healthcare workers, who are rightly focused on coronavirus patients and should not be overwhelmed by preventable car crashes,” Martin said.
NSC collects fatality data every month from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics so that deaths occurring within one year of the crash and on both public and private roadways – such as parking lots and driveways – are included in the estimates. NSC motor vehicle fatality estimates and supplemental estimate information, including estimates for each state, can be found here.
For the three-day Memorial Day weekend starting at 6 p.m. ET Friday, May 22, NSC estimates 366 potential fatalities country-wide. If the estimate holds, it will be the lowest number of fatalities for the holiday period since 2014.
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