US Traffic Deaths Spike, Despite Decreased Travel During COVID-19 Pandemic – Study


Prior to 2020, National Safety Council (NSC) data showed that fatal motor-vehicle deaths decreased for three consecutive years, with 39,107 deaths on the road in 2019.

New preliminary semiannual estimates from the NSC gauge some 42,060 motor-vehicle deaths occurred in 2020, amounting to an 8% uptick from the previous year. 

Data broken down by all 50 states and Washington, DC, show that South Dakota and the nation’s capital both observed a 33% spike in motor-vehicle deaths for 2020, recording 34 and nine more vehicular fatalities, respectively. 

Vermont logged 32%, or 15, more motor-vehicle deaths than it did in 2019. 

The mileage decline has been attributed to COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and related mitigation measures putting fewer people on the roads daily.  

The NSC’s newly-released data comes less than a month after a 130-car pileup in Texas that killed at least six people and injured dozens. The wreck is believed to have been caused by slick road conditions. 

Texas observed a 9%, or 305-person, increase in motor-vehicle deaths for 2020, according to NSC estimates. 

Minnesota also logged a 9% increase in preliminary deaths for 2020 than 2019, amounting to 31 more traffic deaths. 

Of course, not all states saw increases in traffic deaths. Hawaii experienced a 20% decline in (or 22 fewer) motor-vehicle deaths and Wyoming observed a 13% decline in (or 19 fewer) traffic deaths. 


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