A report released on June 3 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that traffic accident fatalities rose by 7% in 2020 even though drivers made far fewer journeys. The agency says the figures represent the highest accident death toll since 2007 and the largest year-over-year increase in road fatalities in 13 years. In Virginia, the Department of Motor Vehicles has reported that accident deaths rose by 2% in 2020 despite a 21% fall in the number of accidents.
An invitation to speed
The NHTSA blamed the increase in motor vehicle accident deaths on drivers who took advantage of quiet roads by exceeding posted speed limits and engaging in behavior that they would normally consider too risky. The figures in Virginia bear this out as the number of accident deaths linked to excessive speed in the state increased from 349 in 2019 to 406 in 2020. Other types of dangerous behavior mentioned in the study include driving after drinking or using drugs and not fastening safety belts.
Fewer miles covered
The total amount of distance traveled by American drivers fell by more than 430 billion miles in 2020 according to the Federal Highway Administration, and the fall in traffic volume was especially pronounced in Virginia. The number of vehicles on Virginia’s roads fell by 46% when travel restrictions were introduced in April, and the Washington, D.C., metro area fell from being the nation’s fifth-most congested urban center to its twelfth most congested city.
Holding reckless drivers accountable
If you are injured in an accident caused by excessive speed or other reckless behavior, an experienced personal injury attorney could take legal action on your behalf against the negligent driver responsible. An attorney could seek damages to cover your doctor and hospital bills and compensate you for your pain and suffering and lost income.