Dangerous behaviors picked up during the early, low-traffic days of the pandemic are partly to blame.
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.
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HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Rowan University's Department of Geography, Planning, & Sustainability
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.