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Traffic Deaths Are Up…But Why?


In the first part of 2020, many of us stayed home, didn’t go to work, and didn’t go out anywhere—we were shut in because of the pandemic. So you would expect that traffic fatalities would have decreased in 2020. Actually, over time, with more technology and sensors in our cars than we’ve ever had, you’d expect pedestrian deaths to go down over the long term. That hasn’t happened either.

Traffic Deaths on the Increase

According to a government study that looked at the first 9 months of 2021, and compared them to 2020, the study actually found that traffic deaths increased by about 12%, the largest single year increase since 2007. Even if you adjust for the miles traveled, as there were more miles being traveled in 2021, traffic deaths still went up. From 2019-2020 and from 2020-2021.

Speed Kills

Why all the deaths-especially during lock down 2020? There are a number of theories.  The main one has to do with speed. Although there are a number of factors that go into why vehicles crash, speed is the main indicator in whether or not a crash is fatal or survivable.

Experts say that during the lockdown there were fewer cars on the road, leading people to speed. Additionally, many people who may have normally been drinking at home, and taking a cab or an Uber or walking home, in 2020 were at home, and may have gotten into their cars.

The speed theory actually bears itself out when you look at the state of Texas—the state that leads the nation in traffic fatalities in the study. Texas has roads with speed limits of 85mph. It even bears out when you look at deaths per mile traveled, where more rural areas, with more wide open, less congested highways, often have higher per mile or per capita traffic fatalities.

The Roads Themselves

There are still other theories, such as how we use our roads. Many experts believe that our roads are doing “double duty;” on the one hand, they are being used in commercial areas, where we want to shop and eat and play and have access to retail and leisure activities. On the other hand, we want to get where we’re going fast, with few stops or interruptions.

Roads can’t be people-movers, but also give access to everything we want. As a result, you get roads that have turns, intersections, entryways, and other areas where high contact points can lead to collisions.

Limited-Use Technology

Although many cars are equipped with advanced crash avoidance technology, few of that technology actually helps avoid pedestrians, and whatever technology that does exist, is often only offered as an option that many don’t want to, or can’t pay for. Pedestrian deaths have increased over 50% from 2009-2019, and many experts believe that lowering pedestrian deaths is the first step in lowering the overall traffic fatality rate.

Have you been injured in a traffic accident? Contact the Tampa personal injury lawyers at Barbas Nunez Sanders Butler & Hovsepian for help today.


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