The global health crisis has changed many activities across the United States in the last two years. One of the most surprising of these changes has been the upsurge in traffic accidents and deaths in the last several years. Deaths from vehicle accidents have been falling since the late 1960s, due in part to improvements in vehicle construction, lower speed limits, and a lower incidents of drunk driving. By 2019, the annual death rate from automobile crashes was near the lowest level since the late 1920s, when automobiles first became a common consumer purchase. Then the health crisis arrived, and in the summer of 2020, accidents and deaths began surging. Accident experts had hoped that the emptying of roads caused by the pandemic would reduce the number of accidents and deaths. Instead, drivers became more aggressive, making up for fewer drivers.
The increase in traffic deaths per capita
According to some observers, the pandemic has made people feel frustrated and angry, and these feelings are increasing the number of violent crimes, customer abuse of workers, and motor vehicle crashes. These feelings have caused the per capita rate of vehicle accident deaths to rise by 17.5% in the two years during the existence of the pandemic. In 2021 alone, the per capita death rate increased by 12%. Observers of American society say these statistics show how 2020 and 2021 has harmed our country by increasing the frequency of erratic behavior. As one scientist put it, the restrictions caused by the pandemic have made people angry, and one way to dissipate the anger is to press a little harder on the accelerator.
The burden of the increases in vehicle accidents appears to have fallen far more heavily on low-income neighborhoods. In 2020, overall U.S. traffic deaths rose 7.2%; among black Americans, the number of deaths rose by 23%. These statistics reflect a growing disparity between Americans based upon relative economic standings, and not all changes can be blamed on covid.
The increase in traffic accidents, injuries and deaths caused by covid cannot, of course, be legally blamed on the disease. Implicit in the foregoing statistics is the conclusion that bad driver behavior is still responsible for traffic accidents, injuries and deaths. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a traffic accident may still benefit by consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer for an evaluation of the facts and an opinion on the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.