Motor Vehicle Deaths in 2020 Estimated to be Highest in 13 Years, Despite COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Many Americans were forced into lockdown and strict stay-at-home orders in 2020. This led to a sharp decrease in traffic and vehicles on the roads and highways. Unfortunately, it did not lead to a decrease in driving-related deaths. In fact, there was a large spike in traffic-related deaths in part to reckless driving.

The National Safety Council reported that over 42,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2020. That represented an 8% increase over 2019, which marked the first increase in four years.

Last year’s death toll was the highest for the first time in almost 13 years. In 2007, as many as 43,945 people were estimated to have died in motor vehicle crashes. The National Safety Council also reported that an estimated 4.8 million people were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2020.

“Unfortunately, reckless driving and distracted driving likely played a large role in a lot of these crashes,” according to Attorney Zach Campbell, at the personal injury firm, Metzger Wickersham. “Locally, in 2020 we did see a few months where there was a decrease in calls from people injured in crashes, but it was not a major decrease,” he added. “Surprisingly, we still had dozens of inquiries from people who were badly injured as a result of reckless driving despite less people being on the roads.”

Empty roads also likely contributed to the uptick in crash related deaths. Drivers on empty roads were more emboldened to drive at extreme speeds. The National Safety Council said that travelling over 100 mph makes crashes more severe. Less traffic likely led to more dangerous driving behaviors.

As traffic is getting back to pre-pandemic levels, the bad driving habits are not going away. “Even with safer cars being built, we are still seeing tragic cases involving bad and reckless driving habits. Distracted driving remains our number one concern,” stated Attorney Campbell. “We just hope 2021 can be a safer year for everyone on the roads.”

If you have been injured as a result of a motor vehicle crash, call the attorneys at Metzger Wickersham for a free consultation to make sure your rights are protected.

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