Traffic Deaths Are Surging Despite Less Miles Being Traveled
New data is out about traffic fatalities in 2020 and, despite the lockdowns from Covid, the numbers are shocking.
Deaths on the road were higher during 2020 than any other year dating back to 2007 – during a year where less people were driving, Bloomberg reported this week.
Even more alarming is the fact that 2021 could wind up being worse, as the government estimates that 20,160 have died from crashes in the first half of 2021 – a stunning 18.4% increase from 2020.
Transportation Secretary “Mayor Pete” said in October, when the numbers were released: “This is a crisis. We cannot and should not accept these fatalities as simply a part of everyday life in America.”
Meanwhile, the NHTSA is allowing Tesla to beta test its latest version of its “Full Self Driving” on public roads seemingly without interruption.
The deaths were initially blamed on reckless driving on empty roads, but that explanation fell short in explaining this year’s numbers, since people are returning to the roads.
Pam Shadel Fischer, senior director for external engagement at the Governors Highway Safety Association commented: “This is our other national pandemic—traffic crashes.”
Experts “don’t know what’s causing the surge,” the report says. Guesses include more people speeding and less people wearing seatbelts, the NHTSA said. Vehicles are also “getting bigger” and lawmakers are making it “legal to go faster”, Bloomberg wrote.
Regulators used to simply believe that less driving meant less accidents and more driving would mean more accidents. Beth Osborne, director of the advocacy group Transportation for America, said: “At least one of our assumptions has been proven wildly wrong.”
She continued: “If I see a very wide-open road, my natural inclination is to drive fast. Highways are designed specifically to allow for fast driving. What we’ve done is take that highway design and apply it to roadways that serve local developments, where there are lots of conflicts.”
David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, added: “We know from research we’ve done that a greater amount of horsepower equals higher speeds traveled, and we know higher speeds traveled leads to a higher number of crashes with higher severity.”
No word on whether or not Mayor Pete was seen driving away in his Model 3 after his late October press conference on the issue…