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NHTSA Reports Less Traffic, More Traffic Deaths During COVID

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cars stuck in traffic
2020 helped reduce vehicle traffic…but not traffic-related fatalities

COVID-related lockdowns helped reduce traffic in many states earlier this year. However, this reduction in traffic didn’t reduce traffic-related fatalities, as a new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirms.

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The stats

When NHTSA recently revealed 2019 statistics on traffic deaths, it also shared some statistics from the first part of 2020. According to the report, the overall traffic volume decreased by 16 percent in the U.S. during the first half of the year.

The NHTSA predicts that the traffic fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled will increase to 1.25 for this timeframe. That’s notably higher than the 1.06 traffic fatality rate for the first half of 2019.

The increase in traffic fatality stats isn’t too surprising when you consider that a lot of people on the roads in the first part of the year were exhibiting dangerous driving behavior. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as well as speeding, were two common roadside offenses in the first half of 2020, as Jalopnik’s Elizabeth Blackstock shares.

During mid-March to mid-July, the NHTSA confirms that “almost two-thirds of drivers tested positive for at least one active drug, including alcohol, marijuana, or opioids.” Though, distracted driving is likely another potential factor contributing to this year’s increase in hazardous driving behaviors.

A reminder to drive safely

Distracted Driving
Put your phone down while driving to increase your focus and keep everyone a bit safer

NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens sees the sobering statistics as a timely reminder to drive safely and responsibly even if traffic is lighter where we live. “Now, more than ever, we should be watching ourselves for safe driving practices and encouraging others to do the same.”

Keep yourself and others safe on the road, both this year and in the years to come, when you ditch the dangerous habit of texting while driving. And brush up on these cold-weather driving tips so you can navigate snowy and icy roads more safely and confidently.

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