Highway deaths in 2020 were the highest in a decade despite the much lower traffic volumes during the lockdown. Feeling isolated and stressed during the early days of the pandemic, some drivers took to the road and found those empty highways were an opportunity to put the pedal to the metal. There were countless news reports of drivers clocked at over 100 mph in every state.
Not slowing down
Data from 2021 shows that the number of 100-plus mph tickets issued remains stubbornly higher than in 2019, and reckless driving citations were also exceptionally high.
It wasn’t just speed:
- Seatbelt use was down slightly
- Tailgating was up
- Dangerous lane changes were up
- DUI arrest rates also went up
It’s not just other places — local reports are also consistent with what is happening nationally.
Fatality rates up
Considering these dangerous trends, it is no surprise that the fatality rates went. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency, the number of road-related fatalities went up 7% in 2020 (the most recent year of complete data) for nearly 40,000 deaths, despite the number of miles traveled going down 13%. It adds up to the deadliest year on the highways since 2007.
Hard to kick the habit
Traffic patterns have returned to near-normal levels, but law enforcement reports that driving speeds have not gone back down. Calling it a national crisis, local police and state troopers mounted efforts to rein in the speed, with limited results.
Drivers leave victims in their wake
Unfortunately, the dangerous behavior does not just impact the drivers and their passengers. Innocent people going about their daily lives are victims of the negligent conduct of the record number of speeders. This tragedy devastates families and leaves them seeking answers and accountability.