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Pedestrian Deaths Spiked in 2020 in Spite of Drop in Driving

The year 2020 is likely to be known not just as the year of the pandemic, but, unfortunately, also the year of record pedestrian accident deaths.  Those fatality numbers touched record highs during the first six months of 2020, in spite of the fact that fewer people were driving during this period of time.

According to the statistics released by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, while there were fewer vehicle miles driven during the first 6 months of 2020 due to the pandemic, there was an increase in the incidence of dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding and distracted driving. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association points to these factors as possible causes of the significant increase in pedestrian accident deaths during this time.

According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, which released a report titled Spotlight on Highway Safety, there was a 20% increase in pedestrian accident deaths, compared to a 5% increase in all other car accident fatalities, in the country from January to June 2020.

There were a total of 2,957 pedestrian deaths in the period between January and June 2020, compared to the same period of time in 2019. The increase is significant even after factoring in the reduction in overall vehicle miles traveled in the first half of 2020.  Most of the pedestrian fatalities occurred at night on dark or poorly lit local roads.

Georgia, along with six other states in the nation, accounted for more than half of the pedestrian fatalities in the nation during this time period.   The Governor’s Highway Safety Association report clearly blames an increase in destructive and aggressive driving practices during the pandemic for this increase in accidents. Even as highways clocked fewer vehicle miles traveled, there was an increase in speeding. The empty roads made it much more tempting for motorists to drive at excessive speeds.

There was also an increase in the incidence of other disturbing and destructive driving practices like distracted driving and drunk driving. There were fewer law enforcement officers stationed in most parts of Georgia during the first 6 months of 2020 as the pandemic struck, and shelter-in-place restrictions went into effect. That meant an increase in drunk driving. With fewer law enforcement officers on hand to enforce traffic safety rules, there was also a substantial increase in distracted driving.  The Governor’s Highway Safety Report believes that all of these factors caused an increase in collisions between motorists and pedestrians.

2020 should have been the safest year in recent history for American motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. With most recreational destinations shut down for so much of the year, and more commuters working from home, the streets should have been safer for all. Unfortunately, that was not the case.  Instead, the most vulnerable users of our roads like pedestrians have suffered due to an increase in poor driving practices like distracted driving and speeding.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, talk to an Atlanta pedestrian accident attorney at Katz Law Firm, and determine your legal rights to a claim for damages. You may be eligible for compensation that includes medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost income.

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