The COVID-19 pandemic may have reduced the total number of car accident fatalities, but it has increased the monthly mileage death rate. In May 2019, there was one death for every 84 million miles driven, in May 2020, there was one death for every 68 million miles driven.
According to a recent report from the Advocates For Highway & Auto Safety, “Preliminary data from the first half of 2020 show that while there was a reduction in traffic, the fatality rate increased dramatically and it was reported that dangerous behaviors such as excessive speed, lack of seat belt use and impaired and distracted driving were on the rise.”
In early 2020, many states enacted stay-at-home orders to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This led to a decrease in miles driven in the United States by 40 percent in April 2020 compared to the previous year.
A June 2020 consumer survey by research firm McKinsey & Company states that “about 60 percent of U.S. respondents said they traveled less during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
So, what happened?
Did the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the total number of car accident fatalities in 2020?
As one would assume, while people drove less, the number of vehicle fatalities dropped as well, but fatalities did not decrease by a similar percentage.
Nationally, in May, the number of vehicle deaths dropped by only 8 percent. In other words, the number of deaths per 100 million miles driven increased about 25 percent, according to a National Safety Council (NSC) report.
In July 2020 compared to July 2019, the NSC reported a 36.6 percent increase in road accident fatalities and the monthly mileage death rate rose 26.1 percent.
In New York, according to the New York Times, empty streets eventually gave way to risky behavior as vehicle trips decreased by up to 84 percent, traffic speeds rose 27 percent. In the spring, the number of speeding tickets issued doubled.
National Safety Council Tips for Staying Safe While on the Road
While we hope these statistics are just outliers from a 4-year trend of vehicle fatality rates decreasing, it is important that drivers focus on staying safe while driving.
According to research firm McKinsey & Company, one-half of respondents said they were likely to increase their use of private vehicles as a means of intercity travel, which will reduce riders from public transportation, air travel and railroad because there are fewer commuters and because of the perceived risk of contracting COVID-19 on mass transit.
In response, the NSC has shared important tips for staying safe while on the road:
- Always follow the speed limit – even if the road is free of traffic
- Always wear a seatbelt
- Practice defensive driving
- Designate a sober driver
- Practice with your teen drivers
- Remain off the roads when state and local directives ask you to
- Keep an eye on pedestrian and bicycle traffic
- Avoid distracted driving, including putting your phone away
- Pull over to figure out directions or to use technological devices, and
- Get enough sleep prior to driving
The NSC also released recommendations to employers, including:
- Offering incentives to employees who wish to explore new modes of transportation
- Providing additional services like dedicated parking, shuttle services and flexible work-from-home policies, and
- Acknowledging that employees may be returning to work in a state of “unusual stress or exhaustion” and that they may “have fallen out of the practice of operating their vehicles because of shelter-in-place orders.”
DOT and Driver Safety Training
CNS DOT trainers offer a variety of in-person, or online training courses for the specific needs or weaknesses of your company.
Driver training and education is a very valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet, and compliant safety practices. Our trainers can tailor our training to your specific operation.
- Hours of Service
- Pre & Post Trip Inspection
- Decision Driving
- Defensive Driving
- Distracted Driving
- Driver Qualification Training
- Backing and Parking Tractor Trailers
- ELD Training
- New Driver Training
- Accident Procedures
- Hazmat Training
- Cargo Securement
- 60 Minute Drug and Alcohol Supervisor Training
- School Bus