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Tuesday, 15 September 2020 16:11

NSC Estimates: U.S. Saw a 20% Jump in Motor Vehicle Death Rates in First Six Months of 2020, Despite Quarantines

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Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council based on the first six months of data from all 50 states tell an erratic story about the nation's driving behaviors and the impact of COVID-19 on roadway safety.

The U.S. experienced an estimated 20% jump in the death rate---an indicator of how safely drivers are using the roadways---between January and June 2020 compared to the same six-month period in 2019. The rate increase comes in spite of a 17% drop in the number of miles driven between January and June. The total number of deaths is up 1% from six-month figures in 2019.

 

According to NSC estimates, the 20% increase in the death rate is the highest jump NSC has calculated for a six-month period since 1999.

 

In June---when many states ended three straight months of quarantine---the number of miles driven remained 13% lower than the previous year, but death rates and number of deaths both skyrocketed. The number of deaths was up 17% in June, while the rate of death per 100 million miles driven jumped a staggering 34.4%---again indicating that the lack of traffic did not make the roads safer. June marked the first month since the pandemic that both the number of fatalities and the death rate increased in a single month.

 

The riskier roads threaten to reverse traffic safety gains made over the last few years. After three straight years of rising fatality numbers between 2015 and 2017, the country had been experiencing a leveling off and small decline in overall fatalities.

 

"Because of COVID-19 and states' shelter-in-place orders earlier this year, the country should have reaped a safety benefit from less traffic," said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. "Instead, our soaring rate of deaths speaks to our need to improve safety on our roads. Clearly, we must work harder as a society to reverse this trend, especially since the pandemic is not nearly over."


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