USA- Routefiftey.com writes that the coronavirus led to emptier roadways, but that those roads are also deadlier. Over a five-month period, the number of miles driven nationally dropped by about seventeen percent on average. The National Safety Council states that during that time, the number of crashes did also decline, but not nearly as dramatically as the number of miles traveled. As such, those on the road are at a greater risk of being involved in a deadly collision.
According to the CEO of the NSC, the open roadways have been interpreted by many drivers as an invitation to be reckless. Over the first five months of 2020, the nation reported 13,890 fatalities. Last year during the same time period, 14,780 people died in crashes. However, the rate of deaths per miles traveled went up by 23.5 percent. In 2019, one person died for every 84 million vehicle miles traveled nationally. This year, one person is killed on average for each 68 million miles traveled.
The data is new, and analysts cannot yet determine the reason that traffic deaths are more likely this year. Many people suspect that at least part of the reason is that drivers are speeding more. With traffic far lighter than prior to the quarantine, anyone wanting to reach higher speeds has open roads on which to give it a try.
In Ohio, state patrol officers report that they have been ticketing twice as many motorists for speeding above 100 miles per hour. Speed cameras in New York City issued close to two times as many tickets a day in March as they did in February. Some have also suggested that officers were more reluctant to enforce traffic laws out of a desire to avoid direct contact.
Drunk driving is another potential factor at play. It is possible that people are drinking more because of this highly stressful year.
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