You might have thought that fatal vehicle crashes would have dropped last year. After all, many of us stopped driving to work each day. Most of us ventured out less than usual, with many of the places we typically go by car shut for at least part of the year. Surprisingly, fatal vehicle crashes rose across the country during 2020 to levels not seen since 2007.
Preliminary figures from the National Safety Council (NSC) show an 8% rise in deaths on the road compared to 2019. Almost 3,000 more people died. Injuries will have gone up to around 4.75 million if the usual rate of 1 death to every 114 injuries continues to apply. Yet, the number of miles people traveled went down by 13%.
Why have vehicle crash deaths and injuries risen while miles traveled have dropped?
At first glance, the figures make little sense. However, law enforcement officers across the country reported that drivers were driving more recklessly because there was less traffic:
- Open roads encourage people to speed: When someone has a fast car, they can get frustrated if the roads they travel are too congested to travel fast. Imagine one day the road becomes quieter. Some will be tempted to push the gas pedal to the floor.
- Higher speeds increase the risk of injury or death: A crash in typical rush hour traffic may be little more than a gentle shunt between two crawling cars. Once the road is clear enough to speed up, any crash will be more severe. It is also easier to lose control at speed.
If a speeding driver crashes into you, it is vital to claim compensation for any injuries they cause you.