COVID-19 put the brakes on the economy, but it hit the accelerator on the number of fatality rates per miles driven. There are many reasons for this including driver fatigue and the willingness to engage in dangerous driving behaviors while the roads are less congested. As lockdowns ease across the country, there is a significant risk that fatality rates will trend upward as more people take to the road after many weeks and months of staying home.
Nationwide Trends During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Nationwide, NSC data shows that the US experienced a 14% increase in the number of motor vehicle fatalities per mile driven in the first quarter of this year. Illinois saw an 11% increases in roadway fatalities in the first three months of this year. By comparison, California experienced an 8% increase, fatalities in Arkansas increased by 16%, Nevada grew by 10%. Other states that saw increases included New York, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. The state with the highest rate of increase was Connecticut which experienced a 42% increase in fatalities.
The Hazards of Summer Travel
Summer travel season is just starting to gear up. With gas prices at record lows, fewer planes flying, and a significant number of people reluctant to fly because of COVID-19, it means that more people are going to take to the road for their summer vacations. If the trends started earlier this year continue, it means that the combination of congested roads, alcohol consumption, distracted drivers, etc. could make this summer travel season one of the deadliest in Illinois history.
Open Season for Reckless Drivers
Less congestion during March and April meant wide open roads for motorists to cruise down. This includes everything from trying to break the infamous Cannonball Run record to drivers simply eager to shave a few minutes off their daily commute by running stop signs or red lights. Some are also taking advantage of the fact that law enforcement has been tied up with coronavirus calls, and more recently, protest calls.
The prevalence of these dangerous behaviors and other reckless driving habits mean that drivers need to pay closer attention to the roads than usual. Drivers need to avoid dangerous roads, obey posted speed limits, wear their seat belts, and practice defensive driving techniques throughout their journey whether it’s a trip to the store, commute to work, or a trip over the river and through the woods.