Why Has Road Safety Declined During the Pandemic Despite Fewer Drivers?

By WBBM Newsradio 780 AM & 105.9 FM

The rate of deadly traffic accidents is greater for the third month in a row, even as COVID-19 restrictions has meant fewer drivers on the roads, according to a road safety report.

While the number of miles driven was down about 25 percent in May, the last month for which statistics are available, the rate of deadly accidents per mile driven rose by about 23 percent, said Ken Kolosh, who oversees statistics for the National Safety Council..

Kolosh said that's due in part to drivers being more distracted because of worries about COVID-19 and recent social unrest.

But speed is a major factor.

Kolosh says there is anecdotal evidence that more drivers are speeding because of fewer vehicles on the road, which he says increases the risk of deadly accidents even with reduced traffic.

A Zendrive study comparing data six weeks before the pandemic began to six weeks afterward found that collisions were up 20%, hard breaking tickets were up 25%, speeding was up 27% and the use of cell phones behind the wheel grew 38%.

"Some people are traveling out of the big cities to try to go see family in the suburbs or in rural communities, or you have people that are driving around literally because there's nothing else to do," AJ Cole, the Director of Marketing and Partnerships from Safe2Save told media recently. "It's really a mixture of a hot mess right now."

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