There may have been fewer cars on the road in 2020, but the number of accidents, most notably fatal ones, did not decrease as would have been expected. In fact, nearly every traffic accident category showed an increase in fatalities in 2020, a disturbing trend that needs to be corrected through bold, appropriate action.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in June released data on traffic accident deaths in 2020, divided by sub categories. The data was contained in a report tiled Early Estimates of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities and Fatality Rate by sub categories, and clearly indicated that deaths rose in every traffic accident category from rollover crashes to weekend accidents, and beyond.
- Car accident deaths were up by 5 percent to 23,395
- Motorcycle accident deaths were up by 9 percent to 5,015
- Pedestrian accident deaths were the same as 2019 at a flat 6,205
- Bicycle accident deaths were up by 5 percent
There were also increases in all categories divided by cause of accidents. Accidents involving speeding increased by 11 percent, while accidents involving impaired drivers increased by 9 percent. Deaths involving occupants who were not belted in at the time of the accident increased by 15 percent.
Night time is one of the riskier times for driving and comes with a higher risk of accidents. Not surprisingly, these crashes also increased in 2020, at a rate of 11 percent. With more people partying or travelling on weekend trips, weekend crashes also increased by 11 percent. Accidents increased both on interstates as well as urban local roads. Single-vehicle accidents increased by 9 percent, while a similar increase was seen in the case of rollover accidents.
In fact, very few accident categories recorded a drop in 2020. The exceptions were large commercial truck accidents and accidents involving older drivers, whose rates dropped by 2 percent and 9 percent respectively.
There are lessons to take from the data, including the fact that the public health crisis last year drove motorist behavior and influenced crash patterns. For example, older drivers were likely involved in fewer accidents since the crisis last year focused on the risks to senior people, and most of these persons likely stayed at home for much of the year. The rates of accidents which could have otherwise been controlled through enforcement like alcohol -impaired accidents and speeding-related accidents also possibly increased because of the fewer traffic enforcement officers who were posted for several months in 2020. The rates of other critical safety behaviors like buckling up also dropped, probably due to lax enforcement.
As traffic conditions get back to normal and people resume their regular driving patterns, it is important to step up enforcement, especially sobriety checkpoints and speeding enforcement if we are to see a drop in dangerous driving behaviors and related accidents in 2021.
The Atlanta car accident lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent persons injured in car accidents in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia. If you or a loved one have suffered injuries in an auto accident, talk to a lawyer at our firm and discuss your legal rights to a claim for damages for your losses.