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2020: The roads were quieter, not safer

| Apr 15, 2021 | Personal Injury

Social distancing, working from home and business closures led to a natural decrease in traffic throughout the pandemic. You might think the past year saw a decline in motor vehicle accidents as well.

According to the New York Times, that’s not the case. A minimum of 243 crash-related fatalities in New York City seems suggestive of nationwide trends related to the global health crisis.

Why was there a rise in traffic incidents?

Fewer vehicles on the roadways provided opportunities for drivers to increase speed. The number of daily tickets issued by automated traffic cameras throughout the Big Apple nearly doubled. California and Georgia, meanwhile, reported a significant amount of speeding tickets issued to drivers who exceeded 100 miles per hour.

Motorcycle accidents claimed more lives than annual rates over the previous 30 years. In many cases, bikers were killed while riding without valid licensure.

Along with traveling at excessive speeds, drugs and alcohol – potentially used as a coping mechanism – factored into multiple accident reports. Boredom, a desire for entertainment and stress likely contributed to riskier behavior while in control of a motor vehicle as well.

Unprecedented circumstances present statistical uncertainty

Numbers often support a hypothesis. Considering the adaptations required by the barriers to “normalcy” 2020 presented, however, it may be difficult to substantiate the contributing factors behind the data.

For example:

  • Staffing shortages within police precincts could explain why there was a lower number of traffic tickets issued last year than those written during 2019.
  • Illness affected officers the same way it influenced time off among those working in other industries.
  • Unprecedented riots and protests commanded attention from those tasked with serving and protecting civilians.

How or why a significant number of traffic incidents occurred last year may be secondary to the one thing that remains constant; individuals who sustained injuries because of another driver’s negligence can seek compensation. A pandemic does not make accountability obsolete.