The COVID-19 virus has had numerous effects on American society. The latest is that the pandemic may have played a role in the increase in U.S. traffic fatalities recorded in the first half of 2021. Why? Because of the risky behavior drivers have subscribed to fewer vehicles on the road and seemingly fewer law enforcement officers monitoring them.
The estimated 20,160 fatalities recorded in the first six months of the year represent a more than 18% jump in road deaths reported during the same time a year ago, according to statistics disclosed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It represents the deadliest first half of the year for road fatalities in 15 years.
Speeding and failing to buckle up
More drivers engaged in speeding, failing to wear seat belts and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA research supports this in that the agency found that behavioral studies from March 2020 through June indicated higher incidents of speeding and not wearing seat belts compared with pre-pandemic.
In addition, the NHTSA reported that second-quarter traffic deaths from this year climbed more than 23%, representing the largest quarterly increase in history.
While the U.S. government announced intentions to implement a plan early next year to reduce road deaths and serious injuries, drivers should continue to subscribe to:
- Defensive driving: Always watch out for other drivers and their behavior. Be prepared for the unpredictable.
- Watching out for erratic drivers: Stay away from them. Just follow the defensive driving philosophy. You do not know what these drivers are up to, and you do not want to find out.
- Slowing down: For decades, speeding has contributed to roughly one-third of U.S. motor vehicle deaths. Thus, do your best to stay away from drivers who flout the law.
- Buckling up: Wearing a seat belt protects the lives of you and your passengers if you are in a crash.
Following road safety guidelines minimizes the chances that you will be involved in a crash.
Staying safe despite negligent drivers
Negligent and reckless drivers can disrupt the lives of any person and their family. Their actions can have long-term effects, causing heartache, tragedy and a lengthy recovery for those who sustain injuries. The “stay safe” mantra has long been used during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also could just as easily apply to drivers on U.S. roads.