The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released preliminary data from the first half of 2020, which revealed good news and bad news. The good news is that overall fatalities was down. The bad news is the rate of deaths per mile travelled, which the agency uses to gauge road safety over time, is up.
2019 was the third year in a row with fewer traffic fatalities than the year before and 2019 saw the fewest traffic deaths since 2014. On first blush, the numbers from the first half of 2020 are better than 2019 with a decrease in fatalities from 16,988 in 2019 to 16,650 in 2020, which represents a 2% decrease. However, in the first half of 2020, vehicle miles travelled was down 16.6% because of coronavirus. As a result, fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles travelled increased to 1.25 in 2020 from 1.06 in 2019.
NHTSA found a number of reasons for the increase in fatalities, based on vehicle miles travelled, and they all hinge on people making bad decisions. More drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2020 had alcohol or drugs in their systems. Other data suggests many people are driving faster, especially at excessive speeds, and that fewer people are wearing their seatbelts.
NHSTA’s deputy director, James Owens, noted “we have never seen trends like this and we feel an urgency to work with our stakeholders to take action and turn this around as quickly as possible.”
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an automobile accident, please contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner to discuss your legal options by calling 713-396-3964 or toll-free at 1-800-594-4884.