Carnage on the Roads During the Pandemic

The National Highway Safety Administration released traffic safety data finding a huge spike in fatalities since the outset of the pandemic, but didn't mention the role of street design in traffic fatalities.

1 minute read

October 5, 2020, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


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"The rate of roadway fatalities skyrocketed to 1.42 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the second quarter of 2020, according to the National Highway Safety Administration’s just-released report," reports Kea Wilson.

The report makes officials news that has been apparent since the beginning of the pandemic: that drivers are more reckless and dangerous since stay-at-home orders and social distancing emptied roads of cars around the country.

The 1.42 deaths per 100 million vehicles miles traveled represents a 32 percent increase over the 1.08 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled reported for the same period last year.

"With so many fewer cars on the road, the raw number of deadly crashes did decrease during the height of quarantine orders, but not by very much," writes Wilson. "NHTSA reports that 8,870 people lost their lives on U.S. roadways between April and June of this year — just a 3.3-percent decrease over the same period last year, despite declines of driving of as much as 94 percent in many areas of the country."

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, a spokesperson for the NHSTA blamed drivers for risky behavior, but Wilson expresses dismay that "the federal agency blamed the bloodshed on everything but bad road design." 

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