On the surface, many numbers around driving data seem to have seen four years of improvement. In reality, last year’s driving fatalities, on average, were up.
In a review of the statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Car And Driver delves into the causes for concern. The central point of their argument lies in the fact that while total fatalities were down, most people did far less driving. The proportion of deaths per miles driven went up by around 20%.
Why did the rate jump?
While the data are still being analyzed, and we haven’t yet received the full report on 2020 accident statistics, there are a few hints to the cause. Early reports from March show a significant uptick in reckless driving coinciding with the suddenly empty streets. This took the form of:
- Aggressiveness in what little traffic there was
- Excessive speeding
- Disregard for traffic patterns and signage
Apparently, when the traffic cleared up, those still driving took the opportunity to do whatever they wished.
Unfortunately, treating Main Street like the Autobahn led to a significant uptick in crashes. This is because that most speed limits and driving rules exist not simply to protect other drivers. There are certain limitations to just how fast a car can take some roads. It’s beyond simply the posted speed limit safety. It’s physics.
Seatbelts, seatbelts, seatbelts
Among the reckless behavior noted was a distinct lack of seatbelts. We’ve learned over the years that seatbelts make driving safer. Yet every year, people continue to spurn the most basic safety precautions. And like every other driving behavior last year, those still out and about chose the more dangerous option.
What this means for 2021
There is no indication that the terrible driving of 2020 will carry over into this year. However, anyone on the road must take steps to protect themselves physically and legally. If you get an injury or lose a loved one to a reckless driver — with strong personal injury representation — you can hold them accountable for their recklessness.