Have Fatal Car Accidents Increased During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Car Accidents | March 8, 2021

The COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic sent cities around the U.S. into full lockdowns. Most companies transitioned their employees to remote work wherever possible, while others had to downsize and lay workers off. COVID-19 lockdowns led to a dramatic decrease in traffic around the country. Despite this, car accident statistics show an increase in fatal collisions.

Traffic Down, But Fatal Crashes Up

Early statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimate a total of 28,190 people killed in traffic accidents from January to September of 2020. This is about a 4.6 percent increase from the same period in 2019, when 26,941 victims lost their lives. Further analysis shows that in the first quarter of 2020, traffic fatalities rose by 0.6 percent. Then, they fell by 1.1 percent in the second quarter, only to spike by 13.1% from July to September.

Other studies from around the U.S. have had similar findings. According to a study from Eastern Connecticut State University, the initial stay-at-home order in Connecticut (from March 23 to April 30) saw a significant increase in the rate of single-car accidents compared to the number of cars on the road. The study found that, after accounting for the decrease in traffic volume, the rate of single-vehicle car accidents doubled and the rate of fatal single-vehicle crashes quadrupled.

Factors Contributing to the Increase

Studies point to speeding and other risks taken by drivers have contributed to the increase in fatal car accidents during the pandemic. Although the lack of traffic means fewer cars on the road during the coronavirus pandemic, it also means long stretches of highway uninterrupted by other cars. Fewer vehicles on the road means less congestion and faster overall traffic speeds.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of other drivers inspired some to drive at excessive speeds, race or engage in other acts of reckless driving. Traffic safety experts believe that speeding and dangerous driving correspondingly increasing the severity of auto accidents and the number of fatal collisions during lockdowns.

The decrease in the number of police officers patrolling the streets during lockdown furthered the prevalence of reckless driving behaviors. Unfortunately, this combination caused an overall increase in the number of fatal car accidents – especially during the initial phase of the pandemic.

detail shot featuring the steering wheel, windshield, and right hand of driver from driver's perspective

How to Stay Safe on the Road

Car accident statistics for the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 are still pending. Existing data suggests, however, that the upward trend in the number of fatal accidents has maintained relatively steady throughout subsequent lockdowns connected to COVID-19. Drivers today are still taking advantage of reduced traffic and less police activity to engage in reckless behaviors such as texting and driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and not wearing seat belts.

Keep yourself and your family safe on the road during the COVID-19 pandemic by being vigilant about other drivers around you. Practice defensive driving: assume other drivers will break the rules and endanger your life, rather than assuming the opposite. Keep an eye out for drivers who may pose a risk, such as those who are speeding, racing, weaving between lanes, driving the wrong way, or running red lights and stop signs. If you notice a driver breaking a traffic law, maintain a safe distance and report his or her license plate number to the police.

Injured? Contact a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured in an auto accident during the COVID-19 pandemic, contact a Los Angeles car accident lawyer for assistance with a claim. A lawyer can help you prove a case against a reckless or negligent driver, as well as negotiate for maximum financial compensation.

Speak to an attorney from The Ryan Law Group today at (844) 529-6622. We are open for business and continue to take new clients through virtual meetings and teleconferences during the COVID-19 crisis.

During the COVID-19 crisis, The Ryan Law Group is open for business and continues to be available to existing and new clients through virtual meetings and teleconferences. We can handle all of your legal needs without you leaving your house. Please, call (310) 321-4800 or contact us here to be connected to our attorneys who can get to work on your case.