The pandemic caused a sharp increase in car crash and pedestrian fatalities in New York City and across the country, according to traffic and health experts. The spike occurred despite fewer cars being on roads.
Rise in car crash-related deaths
Government statistics show that motor vehicle accident and pedestrian fatalities rose by 17.5% per capita between the summers of 2019 and 2021, which is the highest increase in deaths since the 1940s. The rise happened when lockdowns caused a significant reduction in traffic volume.
Health experts believe the stress of the worldwide health crisis caused some drivers to be more aggressive, less patient and less attentive while behind the wheel, which led to more car accidents. People also turned to alcohol and drugs to deal with their mental health struggles, causing more impaired driving accidents.
How to prevent motor vehicle accidents
Studies show that lower speed limits and drunk driving legislation have helped reduce roadway deaths since the 1960s, and law enforcement agencies are cracking down on drivers who ignore these laws. In addition to slowing down and never driving while impaired, drivers can prevent accidents by:
- Always wearing seat belts
- Paying attention to the road at all times
- Slowing down in school zones and other pedestrian areas
- Using traffic signals
- Not tailgating other vehicles
- Leaving enough time to reach destination at posted speeds
- Adjusting speed for weather conditions
- Remaining calm and patient behind the wheel
- Limiting distractions
- Avoiding nighttime driving
Drivers who fail to follow safe driving practices could be found negligent if they cause car or pedestrian accidents. Negligent drivers who injure or kill someone could face serious consequences, including fines, jail time and personal injury lawsuits.