Road deaths in the United States increased dramatically after coronavirus lockdowns ended in 2020, rising 13.1% in the three months ending September 30 to the highest rate since 2005 despite a dropping driving, auto safety regulators said Wednesday.
A total of 11,260 people died on U.S. roads in the third quarter of 2020, up from 9,953 during the same three-month period in 2019, according to preliminary data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The fatality rate soared to 1.48 deaths per 100 million kilometers driven, as kilometers driven per vehicle fell 14.5% from 2019 levels in the first nine months of the year.
The auto safety agency said it was “deeply concerned about the road safety trends evident in preliminary 2020 data.”
In an open letter to drivers on Wednesday, NHTSA urged action to tackle the “terrible trend”.
According to the agency’s letter, “Fewer Americans drove but those who did took more risks and had more fatalities. … It is irresponsible and illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which puts not only your life but also the lives of others. “
Some experts say that as US roads became less congested, some motorists engaged in more dangerous behaviors, including those who thought police were less likely to issue tickets because of COVID-19 and data suggests that a higher number of serious accidents last year involved drugs or alcohol. use as before.
NHTSA said in October that a study of the first crash data after pandemic lockouts found that “drivers who stayed on the roads engaged in riskier behaviors, including speeding, not wearing using seat belts and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The NHTSA said on Wednesday that deaths fell 19% in April and 2.7% in May, but then jumped 16% in June and rose 13% or more in the following three months.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney)
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