28,190 people died in car accidents in the US in the first 9 months of 2020 compared to 26,941 during the same period of 2019. This represents a 4.6% increase in car accidents fatalities in the US while at the same time the umber of miles travelled decreased by 14.5 %. These numbers are early estimates recently published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
First a decline during the lockdown and then an explosion of deaths
While looking at each month’s fatalities, data show that during the lock down fatalities declined significantly and then exploded after things gradually reopened. In March 2020 car crash fatalities in the US were down by 7.7%, in April by 19% and in May by 2.7%. Then, in June 2020, crash deaths increased by 16% compared to June 2019, by 13% in July, by 13% in August and by 13% in September.
Speed, alcohol and drugs were the main factors in crash fatalities
As the roads became less crowded and the drivers fellt that the police were more reluctant to issue tickets because of COVID-19, accident data showed an increase number of serious crashes involving speed, alcohol and drugs as well as other risky behaviors such as not wearing a seatbelt.
Similar trends were observed in New York City
The number of traffic fatalities in New York City reached a record low in March 2020, increased slightly to 11 in April and May 2020 and then jumped to 29 crash fatalities in June. Since the Vision Zero program was implemented in New York City at the beginning of 2014, car accident fatalities never went above 28 expect once previously in June 2016 during which 29 people died in car accidents in New York City. A record high number of traffic deaths were recorded last September in the city with 35 people killed in crashes in the city. The trend is the same as the rest of the country: less traffic and the police less incline to arrest drivers has lead to more risky driving behaviors.