Despite Stay-at-Home Orders, U.S. Traffic Deaths Rose in 2020

Dangerous behaviors picked up during the early, low-traffic days of the pandemic are partly to blame.

Read Time: 1 minute

February 2, 2021, 10:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Street Traffic

logoboom / Shutterstock

Despite pandemic-induced reductions in driving last year, traffic deaths in the United States rose 4.6% during the first nine months of 2020. "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 28,190 people died in traffic crashes from January through September of last year, up from 26,941 in the same period of 2019."

With fewer vehicles on the road, some drivers engaged in more dangerous behavior—and are continuing to do so even as traffic starts to return to pre-pandemic levels. Traffic deaths fell slightly in the second quarter, then spiked by 13.1% in the third. Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, speculates that speeding is the main culprit. "Early in the pandemic, drivers found open roads and drove faster. The behavior continued even as traffic volumes recovered." Intoxicated driving and fewer people wearing seatbelts also play a role in the increased deaths.

Monday, January 25, 2021 in The Washington Post

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Aerial view of MBTA commuter rail station in Concord, Massachusetts among green trees

Massachusetts Zoning Reform Law Reaches First Deadline

Cities and towns had until January 31 to submit their draft plans for rezoning areas near transit stations to comply with a new state law.

February 1, 2023 - Streetsblog Mass

Green alley under construction

Green Alleys: A New Paradigm for Stormwater Management

Rather than shuttling stormwater away from the city and into the ocean as quickly as possible, Los Angeles is now—slowly—moving toward a ‘city-as-sponge’ approach that would capture and reclaim more water to recharge crucial reservoirs.

February 2, 2023 - Curbed

Covered pergolas for outdoor dining line the curb on Ballard Avenue, Seattle

Seattle Historic District Could Remove Street Dining

Despite the popularity of Ballard Avenue’s outdoor dining pergolas, some district board members argue the patios don’t match the district’s historic character.

February 7 - The Urbanist

Rendering of landscaped street with street trees and pedestrian sidewalk

South L.A. Complete Streets Project Back on Track

First proposed in 2015, the Broadway-Manchester redesign would add bike infrastructure, pedestrian improvements, trees, and other amenities.

February 7 - Urbanize LA

Spanish-style State Street commercial buildings in downtown Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara Expands ADU Program to Boost Housing

The city hopes that permitting larger ADUs and making adaptive reuse easier will help it meet its state-mandated goal of building over 8,000 new housing units by 2031.

February 7 - Noozhawk

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.