Every time you get in your car, there’s a chance that you’ll be involved in a crash. The more miles you drive, the higher the risk. If you extrapolate this logic, you’d expect traffic fatalities to have decreased in recent months. After all, people have been staying home and therefore driving a lot less. Fatal crashes should be going down.
But that’s not what’s happening.
Traffic Fatalities Rise During Lockdown
According to the National Safety Council, there was an 18.6 percent drop in miles driving during March 2020 compared to March 2019. Despite this significant decrease, traffic fatalities per mile driven actually increased by 14 percent.
The numbers don’t lie, but they do raise a question: Why?
“Disturbingly, we have open lanes of traffic and an apparent open season on reckless driving,” said Lorraine M. Martin, National Safety Council president and CEO.
The National Conference of State Legislatures Blog reported anecdotal evidence that extreme speeding was on the rise in many states as lockdowns emptied streets. In Colorado, a driver got caught going 128 mph in a 55-mph zone. In Oregon, the average speed on some highways increased by 26 mph. Similar news stories have become common in many states in recent months.
Stay Safe on the Road This Summer
Nearly empty roads can be deceptively dangerous, especially when they cause people to forget about safe driving. Similarly, summer driving can also be deceptively dangerous. Although the roads tend to be free of ice, snow and rain, the summer heat can damage tires and cause blow outs. At the same time, more people – including more teenagers who are out of school – are on the roads.
Summer driving is so dangerous that it’s been given a nickname – the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer. According to We Save Lives, 260 teens are killed in car crashes each month during this period, which is an increase of 26 percent compared to other months.
With the recent spike in reckless driving and extreme speeding, this summer is shaping up to be especially dangerous – but it doesn’t have to be.
Always drive safely – even when the road is less congested than normal. Obey the speed limit, give your full attention to the road and never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
To help families stay safe this summer, the NHTSA has five tips:
- Get your car serviced. Preventative maintenance can reduce the risk on problems on the road.
- Check for recalls. If your vehicle has been recalled, it might not be safe to drive, but the issue can be fixed at no charge to you. Go to the NHTSA recall site and enter your car’s VIN to see if there are any recalls.
- Check your tires. Make sure the air pressure is correct and inspect the tread for uneven or excessive wear. You should also carry a spare tire.
- Pack emergency supplies. If your car breaks down or something else goes wrong, you’ll need emergency supplies for your car, including a jack, jumper cables, flares, a white flag, basic repair tools and a tire pressure gauge. You should also pack a first aid kid, a flashlight, food, water, medicine, blankets, towels, coats, a cell phone and a charger.
- Share the road. Look out for other vehicles as well as pedestrians and bicyclists.
Remember to stay safe while driving this summer and don’t forget to have the auto insurance you need. Get an auto insurance quote here.