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Road deaths spiked 8% in 2020

Keyser Soze

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Road deaths spiked 8% in 2020 despite 13% drop in miles driven, National Safety Council reports


Despite an estimated 13% drop in miles driven, the National Safety Council reported Thursday that estimated road deaths increased by 8% last year and the death rate per 100 million miles driven increased 24%, the highest one-year increase since 1924.

The council reported that 42,060 people died on the nation’s highways in 2020. That’s up 8% from 39,107 in 2019 and the highest number of highway deaths since 2007.

The rate of deaths per miles driven jumped 24% from 1.20 in 2019 to 1.49 last year.

“It is tragic that in the U.S., we took cars off the roads and didn’t reap any safety benefits,” said Lorraine M. Martin, the council’s president and CEO, said in a news release. “These data expose our lack of an effective roadway safety culture. It is past time to address roadway safety holistically and effectively, and NSC stands ready to assist all stakeholders, including the federal government.”

The grim statistics validate concerns traffic safety officials have been raising since last spring, when near-empty roads seemed to encourage more motorists to ignore speed limits and engage in other dangerous activies such as using their cellphone while driving. The result has been more deadly accidents due to the higher speeds.

Overall, Texas maintained its rank as the state with the most traffic deaths at 3,891, up 9%. Seven states had jumps of more than 15%: Arkansas (+26%), Connecticut (+22%), Georgia (+18%), Mississippi (+19%), Rhode Island (+26%), South Dakota (+33%) and Vermont (+32%).

Nine states had an estimated drop in traffic deaths: Alaska (-3%), Delaware (-11%), Hawaii (-20%), Idaho (-7%), Maine (-1%), Nebraska (-9%), New Mexico (-4%), North Dakota (-1%) and Wyoming (-13%).

The council estimates Pennsylvania had 1,166 road deaths, up 5% from 1,107 in 2019. 


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I don't think that the lack of to and from work travel in some areas would really affect the statistics.  I'd also bet a lot of those working from home are in cities and are people that took public transportation anyway. 

 We took a 3 week trip across the US in the summer and believe me, we saw more traffic than ever before.  There were not "near empty roads" anywhere we went, in fact the traffic in the mountains and desserts was as unreal as cities due to everyone camping. I wonder how many folks pulling campers and ATV's that never had before attributed to these numbers?  How many were under the influence due to high alcohol sales? remember home delivery and lines at state stores when there was nothing else to go to? 

We also took 2 annual trips 400-500 miles from home and traffic seemed the same as always and hotels, restaurants and shops were full with waiting lines. 

Work travel might have been down but recreational travel is not.  Waiting lists everywhere for buying campers and trailers.

I always wonder who makes these numbers up?  The line "we took cars off the roads"  that should concern folks. . .

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