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The Reason Why Traffic Fatalities Did Not Fall During the COVID-19 "Stay at Home" Orders

January 04, 2021

Traffic accident data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has accident experts suggesting that excessive speeding increased the number of accident-related deaths in 2020. Starting in March of 2020, the coronavirus lockdowns shut down businesses and schools, leaving most roadways and highways virtually deserted for several months. However, the traffic accident mortality rate soared, although some states reported traffic volume decreased by up to 50%.  

Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics for the National Safety Council, stated that some drivers have responded by driving faster since fewer motor vehicles were on the road, and high speeds can cause much deadlier accidents. According to PennDOT's preliminary crash data provided to the Federal Highway Administration, Pennsylvania drivers drove 8.4 billion fewer miles this year than the same three months last year. Yet, the fatality rate climbed from 10.92 people killed per billion miles to 13.38 killed.

Minnesota's Office of Traffic Safety director, Michael Hanson, stated that Minnesota's traffic decreased by about 60% during his state's pandemic lockdowns. As a result, Mr. Hanson stated that twice as many drivers were cited for driving 100 mph or faster in 2020, and the number of accident-related deaths spiked. Mr. Hansen said that they expected the number of accident-related deaths to fall during the lockdowns. However, the opposite happened.

David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, reported it is expected that the mortality rate would fall during times such as these. However, less traffic on the road did not provide the usual public safety benefits.

According to Brent Miller, a Pennsylvania State Trooper, law enforcement agencies set aside more resources to stop the aggressive driving. However, the increased number of speeding citations issued correlated with the increased number of accident-related deaths. In May, Pennsylvania state police wrote 222 traffic citations to drivers who were driving 100 mph or faster. This was a 15.6% increase since the same time in May of 2019.  

Key Facts About Speeding and Motor Vehicle Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding has been a cause of about 30% of fatal accidents in the United States on average for the past 20 years.  

According to the National Safety Council, speeding is dangerous and often lethal because speeding diminishes an automobile safety devices' effectiveness. Speeding also increases a vehicle's stopping distance. Most importantly, the faster a driver operates his or her motor vehicle, the less time they have to react to potential dangers.

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Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.