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Crash Fatalities Are On The Rise Though There Are Fewer Cars On The Road

It seems like a simple equation. Fewer cars on the roads should automatically cut the number of accidents. It sounds logical, and amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, this is generally the case in cities across the U.S. and in other countries. However, if the number of crashes are down, then the number of crash fatalities should also be falling by a comparable number, right? 

Not so fast. Unfortunately, the cities being shut down and many people staying off the road have brought a rise in the number of people speeding, which has caused the number of crash fatalities to fall in smaller percentages than the overall crash rate, according to USA Streetsblog

Speed is one of the primary predictors of crash severity. Cities and interstates that are now absent of traffic jams are now wide open in many areas, and speeding has become a constant issue in some communities. This means that the number of people dying in crashes is on the rise in some areas across the nation. 

In Minnesota, both the number of car crashes and the number of traffic fatalities have increased since the onset of the virus in the state. Between March 16 and April 7, there were 24 crashes that led to 28 deaths. A year ago, in the same time period, there were just 12 crashes and 13 deaths. 

Although fewer people are driving these days in New York City, fatalities haven’t declined as much as hoped. While vehicle miles travels have declined some 80%, pedestrian injuries are only down 28% in the last 28 days. Despite fewer cars being on the roadway, there were more motorists killed between March 2nd and April 8th. 

In California, it has been reported that there has been a 50% decline is crash fatalities statewide, despite traffic volume dropping 60%.

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