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Motor Vehicle Fatality Rates Jump 36.6% in April Despite Quarantines, Says National Safety Council

Preliminary estimates based on April data from all 50 states indicate that for the second…

  • July 14, 2020

Preliminary estimates based on April data from all 50 states indicate that for the second straight month, Americans did not reap any safety benefit from having less roadway traffic, according to the National Safety Council.

In fact, the roads became even more lethal as miles driven plummeted.

Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council show a year-over-year 36.6% jump in fatality rates per miles driven in April, in spite of an 18% drop in the total number of roadway deaths compared to April 2019.

The actual number of miles driven dropped 40% compared to the same time period last year. The mileage death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven was 1.47 in April compared to 1.08 in 2019.

Through the first four months of 2020, the following states have experienced notable increases in the number of roadway deaths: Arkansas (24%), Connecticut (45%), Illinois (6%), Louisiana (17%), Minnesota (6%), Nevada (7%), North Carolina (7%) and Oklahoma (6%).

States with notable decreases include Arizona (-12%), Colorado (-5%), Hawaii (-34%), Idaho (-36%), Indiana (-16%), Iowa (-16%), Maryland (-14%), Michigan (-17%), New Jersey (-9%), Oregon (-28%), South Carolina (-12%) and Washington (-16%).

For the three-day Independence Day holiday period starting at 6 p.m. ET Thursday, July 2, NSC estimates 405 potential fatalities, with alcohol as an expected primary factor in nearly 40% of the deaths.

As was the case in March, quarantines and shelter in place directives across the country account for a significant portion of the drop in the number of deaths. However, reports of increased speeding in several states may account for the rising death rates.

To help ensure safer roads, particularly now that many states have reopened and traffic is increasing again, NSC urges motorists to:

Obey speed limits, even if roads are clear and traffic is light

Practice defensive driving. Buckle up, designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue, and drive attentively, avoiding distractions.

Stay engaged with teen drivers’ habits and practice with them frequently – tips are available at DriveitHOME.org

Follow state and local directives and stay off the roads if officials have directed you do to so. During shelter in place and stay at home periods, many states asked drivers to stay off the roads except in emergency situations or for essential errands.

Be aware of increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic, particularly in urban areas. Conversely, pedestrians and bicyclists should remember that streets are getting congested again, and vulnerable roadway users need to be careful.

Organizations and employers are encouraged to join the Road to Zero Coalition, a 1,500-member group committed to eliminating roadway deaths by 2050

Find out more at www.nsc.org.