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Monday, 05 October 2020 20:27

2019 Fatality Data Show Continued Annual Decline in Traffic Deaths

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NHTSA also released preliminary fatality estimates for the first half of 2020. The second quarter of 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 public health emergency, showed a continued decline in overall traffic fatalities.  

 

The FARS data indicate that an estimated 8,870 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of about 3.3% compared to the second quarter of 2019, which translates into 302 fewer fatalities as compared to the same period in 2019.

 

At the same time, at the height of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the total traffic volume decreased by more than 16% in the first six months of 2020. Because traffic volumes decreased more significantly than did the number of fatal crashes, the traffic fatality rate per 100 million VMT is projected to increase to 1.25 in the first half of 2020, up from 1.06 in the same period in 2019.

 

“Road safety is always our top priority, and while we are encouraged by today’s reports showing a continued decline in total fatalities in 2019 and into the first half of 2020, we are concerned by the trend since April showing an increased fatality rate,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens. “Now, more than ever, we should be watching ourselves for safe driving practices and encouraging others to do the same. It’s irresponsible and illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, taking risks not only with one’s own life, but with the lives of others.” 

 

To assist stakeholders in evaluating the trend and identifying countermeasures, NHTSA researchers compiled data from a wide variety of sources to produce a special report also issued Oct. 1. The study suggests that during the height of the national public health emergency and associated lockdowns, driving patterns and behaviors changed significantly, and that drivers who remained on the roads engaged in more risky behavior, including speeding, failing to wear seat belts and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  

 

Traffic data indicates that average speeds increased during the second quarter, and examples of extreme speeds became more common, while the evidence suggests that fewer people involved in crashes used their seat belts.


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