The pandemic affected Americans’ lives in countless ways in 2020. Common examples that immediately come to mind are mask usage, stay at home recommendations, working remotely from home and kids doing distance learning.
For the above reasons and others, there were an estimated 40% fewer vehicles on the road nationally. Despite the lower numbers on the road, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s initial projections for 2020 found that the rate of motor vehicle fatalities went dramatically up nationally, going from 1.065 fatalities per million miles traveled in the first half to 1.26 in the first half of 2020 (the final numbers for 2020 are not yet available). The contrast becomes starker when comparing the second-quarter numbers: 1.08 deaths per million miles traveled in 2019 to 1.42 deaths per million miles traveled in 2020. The fatality total was 2% lower in the first half of 2020 was 16,650, as opposed to 16,988 in 2019.
Behind the numbers
Officials pointed out several factors contributing to the increase:
- There were increased alcohol and drug use due to pandemic related stress.
- Older drivers and those risk-averse were more likely to stay home, leaving the open roads to faster and more reckless drivers.
- There were reports across the country drivers traveling at 100-plus miles per hour.
- Distracted driving remains a stubborn problem with drivers who are even using video conferencing while behind the wheel.
Greater risk to innocent victims
Many assume that this reckless behavior only impacts the driver. However, this is not true. Many crashes involve innocent victims in other motorized vehicles. Moreover, there are also instances where reckless driving on surface roads include victims who are pedestrians or bicyclists.
Families can hold the negligent accountable
Reckless driving can cause death to people who were going about their business or perhaps out for exercise. Unfortunately, this put them at the wrong place at the wrong time, forcing families to seek justice in the courts.