The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was excited to announce that car accidents dropped in 2019 and reached the best low point since 2014. However, the excitement didn’t last too long because the NHTSA later reported that 2020 will likely have more crashes per mile driven than 2019 once all of the crash data is compiled and finalized. It is feared that emptier roads due to the coronavirus pandemic have tempted more reckless drivers onto them.
2019 NHTSA Car Accident Statistics
Starting in 2017, the NHTSA was able to report fewer car accidents and traffic fatalities on American roadways, year after year. 2019 kept up the trend with an overall traffic fatality drop of 2.4%. This percentage might not seem amazing, but, when you consider that each statistic represents a fatality that could have been avoided with careful driving, every crash prevented is a big deal.
A few important 2019 NHTSA car accident fatality statistics are:
- Total number of motor vehicle fatalities: 23,744, down from 24,332
- Total number of large-truck accident fatalities: 5005, down from 5,006
- Total number of pedestrian fatalities: 6,205, down from 6,374
- Total number of speeding-related fatalities: 9,478, down from 9,579
- State with the most traffic fatalities: Texas at 3,615
- State with the most motorcycle fatalities: Florida at 591
- State with the most pedestrian fatalities: California at 972
The overall decline in traffic fatalities between 2018 and 2019 is even more encouraging because people were driving more often in 2019. According to the NHTSA, the 2.4% decrease in total crashes happened despite a 1% increase in total miles driven, which would usually lend to a higher number of car accidents.
2020 Reverses the Trend Despite Empty Roads
The ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, as the NHTSA calls it, has kept millions of Americans in their homes for periods far longer than they would normally. Early in the pandemic, people began to take notice of emptier streets whenever they had to take a trip to work, a grocery store, or a medical clinic. Based on the NHTSA’s preliminary research, traffic volume across the country plummeted by about 16% from March to June as lockdown orders set in.
However, despite more open roads, the NHTSA fears that there could be an increased number of car accidents and traffic fatalities based on how many miles are driven overall. The early estimations suggest that traffic deaths in the second quarter of 2020 only dropped by 3.3% compared to the same quarter in 2019. If fewer cars automatically translated into fewer crashes, then the expected drop should have been around 16%.
Why is there such a large gap between the actual decrease in car accidents and what could have been expected? The data is not complete yet, so a definitive answer is not possible, but the leading theory is that reckless drivers have taken emptier roads as an invitation to speed, swerve, and otherwise turn the street into a playground for them. Such dangerous driving behaviors serve only one purpose: causing car accidents. With many law enforcement agencies reporting an increase in ticketing and reckless driving arrests in 2020, this theory seems to make the most sense.
Pledge to Make 2021 a Safer Year for Drivers Everywhere
The trend of increased car accidents despite emptier roads is one that cannot be allowed to last. Every motorist needs to pledge to themselves and those in their communities that they will drive carefully and defensively at all times. Only then will the NHTSA be able to report another encouraging drop in car accident rates. From our team of trial attorneys here at Adams, Jordan & Herrington, P.C. in Macon, Georgia, we thank you for doing your part in making 2021 the safest year for drivers yet!
Were you in a car accident in Macon, Milledgeville, Albany, or anywhere in between? Let our car accident lawyers know what happened. Contact us now to learn more about your legal options during a free and confidential consultation.