USA – According to a news report on apnews.com, the number of accident-related fatalities increased 4.6% during the first several months of 2020, although there was a drop in the number of vehicles on U.S. highways due to coronavirus lockdowns. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that over 28,000 people were killed in traffic accidents in the first nine months of last year, up from approximately 27,000 accident fatalities in the first nine months of 2019.
Traffic safety officials believe the sudden increase in the number of traffic accident-related fatalities is due to the rise in risky driving behavior. Law enforcement agencies have observed spikes in serious traffic crimes such as driving 100 mph or faster, street racing, reckless driving and driving while intoxicated.
Traffic-related fatalities increased 0.6% in the first quarter of 2020 but fell by 1.1% in the second quarter due to the coronavirus lockdowns. However, traffic-related deaths surged more than 13% from July through September, the NHTSA reported.
Governors Highway Safety Association executive director Jonathan Adkins is confident speeding is the number one reason why fatal accidents are rising. He believes that people developed poor driving habits during the first three to six months of 2020, and those poor driving habits continued even as traffic levels normalized. Mr. Adkins also believes the issue of speeding has been compounded due to the lack of traffic law enforcement and a lack of police presence. Ultimately these drivers speed because they feel they can get away with it.
The NHTSA found a 22% rise in motor vehicle speeds in metropolitan areas over pre-pandemic numbers. A recent study discovered that about 65% of drivers treated at emergency rooms who were injured in severe accidents had alcohol or drugs in their systems. That number was 50% before the coronavirus pandemic, according to the NHTSA. Unfortunately, fewer people are wearing their seat belts, leading to more people being thrown out of the motor vehicle causing fatal injuries.
To combat the problem of fatal traffic accidents, the NHTSA has been launching safety campaigns reminding drivers and passengers to buckle up, reduce speeding, ensure children are in a car seat or booster chair, and never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
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