Traffic Deaths Increase Across Country During Pandemic

Thursday, February 17th, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the national traffic fatality rate. Now multiple years into the pandemic, the United States is experiencing its worst surge in traffic deaths since the 1940s. In the period from the summer of 2019 to the summer of 2021, traffic deaths increased by 17.5 percent per capita, according to The New York Times. This is the largest two-year increase since the end of World War II.

The rapid increase took traffic experts, who expected emptier roads to cause a decrease in accidents, by surprise. Disappointingly, drivers became more aggressive as roads cleared, causing traffic deaths to begin increasing in the summer of 2020. These numbers continued to rise even after people returned to the roads later on.

Experts are tying this alarming increase in fatal accidents to ongoing social unrest that’s resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. David Spiegel, head of Stanford Medical School’s Center on Stress and Health, described the issue as “social disengagement.” The term refers to a lack of social interaction that would normally provide comfort in a person’s everyday life. Without this daily engagement, “there’s a feeling the rules are suspended and all bets are off,” Spiegel said.

Two years of isolation and the inability to do as one pleases have left many people frustrated and erratic. As emotions run high, drivers have proven to be far less likely to consider the safety of others as they navigate the streets. These recent changes are incredibly sad considering that in 2019, the U.S. had neared its lowest annual traffic death rate since cars first became commonplace in the 1920s.

Another important factor to note is the rise in drug abuse that has taken place during the pandemic. According to reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of motorists testing positive for opioid use almost doubled after mid-March 2020 compared to the prior six months. Marijuana prevalence increased by 50 percent in that same period. In that timespan, two-thirds of seriously or fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one active drug, which could include alcohol, marijuana, or opioids. This data is frightening considering the known risks associated with driving while under the influence.

As the pandemic continues, it is important that everyone acknowledge all the ways in which we impact our communities. Apart from adhering to individual state and federal guidelines that pertain to reducing the spread of COVID-19, individuals must make an effort to keep themselves and those around them safe on the roads.

Those who have been injured in an auto accident caused by the negligent actions of another party may be able to receive compensation to cover their damages, including medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering. The auto accident lawyers at Block O’Toole & Murphy are dedicated to helping accident victims obtain justice for their injuries. Their results include a $32,756,156 record-breaking jury verdict for a Vietnam veteran who was struck by an impaired driver while trying to assist victims of a separate car crash.

To discuss your case with one of our skilled attorneys, call 212-736-5300 or fill out our contact form online.



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