According to recent articles by the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, traffic deaths are increasing dramatically.
Here are the numbers according to the articles:
New York Times:
- Crashes killed over 6,700 pedestrians in 2020, up around 5% from the estimated 6,412 the year before.
- Factoring in the decrease in miles driven in 2020 (primarily because of Covid), the pedestrian fatality rate spiked about 21% in 2020.
- The 21% increase is the largest ever year-over-year increase.
- Preliminary data from 2021 indicates yet another increase in pedestrian deaths.
- Nearly 32,000 people were killed in vehicle crashes in the first nine months of 2021, a 12% increase compared to 2020.
Los Angeles Times:
- 38,680 people died on U.S. roadways in 2020, the most since 2007.
- Fatalities increased 7.2% in 2020, even as miles driven dropped 13% due to the pandemic.
- Fatalities increased by 18% in the first six months of 2021.
- Fatalities climbed in every age group between 16 and 65 and rose in 46 states.
These alarming numbers beg the question: why?
According to the articles cited above, the answer may lie in the pandemic.
According to the Los Angeles Times article, “the latest evidence suggests that after decades of safety gains, the pandemic has made U.S. drivers more reckless – more likely to speed, drink, or use drugs, and leave their seat belts unbuckled.”
The New York Times article explains why we may be more reckless: social contact is a major source of pleasure, support, and comfort. The pandemic has limited social contact. This loss has led to increased anxiety, anger, frustration, drinking, drug use, and recklessness. The New York Times also cites decreased patience, fraying social norms, and limited law enforcement resources as other possible causes. Albuquerque’s police chief, Harold Medina, was interviewed for the article. “We are seeing erratic behavior in the way people are acting and their patience levels. Everybody’s been pushed,” said Medina.
What can pedestrians and drivers do to protect themselves?
- Obey traffic signals and use sidewalks and crosswalks
- Avoid jaywalking
- Avoid using your cell phone when crossing the street
- Avoid headphones that limit sound, such as car horns
- Pay attention to traffic
Drive defensively. Defensive driving means using strategies that minimize risk and help avoid accidents by predicting hazards on the road. Defensive driving includes:
- Maintaining attention by not texting or using your cell phone.
- Planning ahead by checking weather conditions and giving yourself enough time to make the trip safely.
- Scanning your surroundings by continuously checking your mirrors and scanning intersections before you pass through them.
- Braking early and leaving more space between you and the cars in front of you than you anticipate needing.
- Staying calm and avoiding road rage.
What should you do if you were in a traffic crash?
Insurance companies act swiftly to limit their financial exposure. This often includes taking recorded statements of crash victims. Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney to know your rights and protect your family.
If you would like more information about traffic crashes or your rights after a traffic crash, call or contact Conybeare Law Office now.
The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Conybeare Law Office will help you value your case and fight to get you the money you deserve.
To learn more about the legal services offered to our Michigan car accident clients, talk to our office today. Conybeare Law Office has offices in Saint Joseph and Kalamazoo, Michigan, and serves all of southwest Michigan and beyond. Call or contact us for a free consultation. We look forward to talking with you. Remember, if it’s not fair, call the bear.