Can a reduction in traffic congestion lead to more fatal collisions?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2022 | Car Accidents

Traffic data from 2020 and 2021 reveals an unexpected correlation between less traffic and more fatalities. With an immense increase in traffic deaths from 2019 to both 2020 and 2021, safety experts must struggle to make sense of the data.

With fewer cars on the road as the world adopted safety practices in light of the surging virus, many believed there would be a noticeable decrease in traffic deaths in 2020 compared to 2019. Unfortunately, 2020 marked a jump of 7.2% in vehicle collision fatalities. Taking it one step further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) data highlighted the fact that vehicle deaths rose 17% when comparing summer 2019 to summer 2021.

While these numbers seem to run contrary to common sense, researchers have noted numerous contributing factors, including:

  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Drowsy driving
  • Impaired driving

The study and numerous surveys found that when faced with an open road, many drivers adopt more risky behaviors. From phone calls and eating while behind the wheel to speeding and changing lanes without checking for vehicles in a blind spot, drivers took a more relaxed attitude toward traffic safety.

In a study that seemed designed based on erroneous data, it has now become common knowledge that drivers on empty roads exhibited an increase in fatal traffic accidents. Unfortunately, as the roads start to return to a pre-COVID level of traffic, many drivers have continued to exhibit these unsafe behaviors. Speeding, driving with distractions or driving while impaired have become the new normal for thousands of drivers across the nation. Unfortunately, additional traffic could mean additional collisions.