Texas car accident lawyer explains why accident rate went up this year
Despite fewer cars on the road earlier this year during the coronavirus pandemic, fatal car accidents nationwide increased dramatically during the first half of the year, according to the latest accident statistics compiled by the National Safety Council (NSC).
“Because of COVID-19 and (state-mandated) shelter-in-place orders earlier this year, the country should have reaped a safety benefit from less traffic,” said Lorraine Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, in an interview with The Detroit Bureau. “Instead, our soaring rate of deaths speaks to our need to improve safety on our roads. Clearly, we must work harder as a society to reverse this trend, especially since the pandemic is not nearly over.”
How bad was the problem? How much were traffic fatalities up in the first half of 2020 compared to the same time period the year before? Which states had the most fatalities? Why were there so many accidents? Texas car accident lawyer Gene S. Hagood looked into the numbers to explain what you need to know to stay safe on the road.
Understanding the rate for the first half of 2020
The NSC recently released its analysis of motor vehicle accidents from January to June 2020. They compared it to the same six-month period in 2019. During that time period, the number of miles driven decreased by 17 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. However, the fatality rate increased by 20 percent, the largest increase for a six-month period since 1999, according to a news article about the NSC statistics.
In June 2020, for example, the number of miles driven was down 13 percent compared to June 2019. However, the death rate was up 17 percent overall, meaning the death rate per 100 million miles driven (the standard measurement used in many traffic studies) was up 34.4 percent in June 2020 compared to June 2019.
“We should have seen very large reductions in traffic deaths due to large reductions in VMT,” Richard Retting, the National Practice Leader for Safety and Research at Sam Schwartz, a traffic safety firm, said during a recent interview with Streets Blog. “Sadly, that did not happen.”
Which states had more traffic fatalities in the first half of 2020?
Nationwide, traffic fatalities decreased in a several states during the first half of 2020. Many states experienced a sharp increase in fatal car accidents during this time, including Vermont, which experienced a 91 percent increase in traffic fatalities in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2020.
Some of the states that had significantly more fatalities during the same period were Missouri (18 percent higher or 68 more deaths), Arkansas (21 percent increase, 51 more deaths) and Connecticut (44 percent higher, 45 more deaths).
How bad have fatal car accidents been so far in Texas in 2020?
Texas often has the most fatal car accidents of any state in the country. In 2018, the most recent year for total annual statistics, Texas led the nation with 3,642 traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Last year, that number was slightly down to 3,610 traffic fatalities in Texas in 2019, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
This year the number of traffic fatalities is up overall in Texas. This despite many people staying home due to lockdown measures instituted due to the coronavirus outbreak. Specifically, during the first seven months of 2020, Texas had 67 more traffic fatalities compared to the same seven-month time period in 2019, according to the latest NSC statistics.
Why are fatal car accidents higher in 2020?
Traffic safety experts have many opinions on the recent trend. Explanations vary from state to state. Many experts do agree that speeding appears to be a common cause of many additional fatal car accidents in 2020.
“We’re getting reports every week of dozens of drivers being cited for traveling over 100 miles an hour. That’s just insanity for our roadways,” Michael Hanson of the Office of Traffic Safety in Minnesota said in an interview in May with Streets Blog.
What are common causes of fatal car accidents in Texas?
Fatal car accidents happen for many reasons. In Texas, the State Department of Transportation compiles a list of contributing factors in fatal accidents. In 2019, the top 5 contributing factors in fatal Texas motor vehicle accidents were:
- Failed to drive in a single lane – 587 fatal accidents
- Failed to control speed – 450 accidents
- Under influence of alcohol – 441 accidents
- Pedestrian failed to yield right of way to vehicle – 435 accidents
- Unsafe speed – 388 accidents
Is your family dealing with a fatal car accident in Texas? Not sure what to do next? Learn more about your rights and your legal options. Contact the Law Offices of Gene S. Hagood and schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced car accident attorney at our law firm. We have offices in Alvin, Houston and Galveston, Texas.