The nation’s shutdown in the spring lowered vehicle miles traveled on the nation’s roads and reduced, but did not eliminate, traffic deaths. According to early estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 7,780 fatalities from motor vehicle accidents in the first quarter of 2020. This was a drop of one percent from the same period in 2019.
For the first quarter of 2019, there were an estimated 7,850, deaths which was 70 more than the same period this year, according to the NHTSA’s June 19 report. While the number of fatalities dropped this year, however, it appears that driving was more dangerous for then distances traveled.
The Federal Highway Administration reported that vehicle miles traveled in the first quarter this year dropped substantially by approximately 40.1 billion miles or 5.4 percent. The traffic fatality rate for the first quarter of 2020 rose to 1.10 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. This was an increase from the projected rate of 1.05 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles in the first quarter of 2019.
The NHTSA said that the unprecedented heath emergency and limited data prevented it from reaching definite conclusions or broader trends at this time. But anecdotal reports of driving at higher speeds and reckless driving has led to an NHTSA summer advertising safety campaign.
Overall traffic deaths were following a dangerous trend. These rose over 10 straight quarters beginning in the fourth quarter of 2014 until a 1.1 percent drop occurring in the second quarter of 2017. The data for the second quarter of 2019 is the seventh straight quarter with year-to-year drop since the fourth quarter of 2017.
Earlier NHTSA reports also showed that traffic deaths rose in 2018 compared with 2017 for large-truck occupants, pedestrians and pedalcyclists. In Jan., the acting director of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said that he directed this agency to deal with an increase in large-truck deaths over the last four years.
Victims of a reckless, negligent, or distracted driver may be entitled to compensation for their loses. An attorney can help find evidence and file, when appropriate, a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.