Drivers Tragically Killing More People in Crashes During Covid

Despite fewer vehicles being on the roads during the pandemic, more people are being killed in crashes.

Nebraska (Copyright image, 2019, Eddie Wren)

Just today, WCCO wrote this: “New numbers out on traffic crashes in Minnesota are troubling and puzzling, even to the experts. Last year at this time there were 346 fatal accidents; this year, there have already been 372.”

How Bad is That?

To the casual glance, that might not seem much but in numbers it is almost an eight-percent increase, and if that were to be repeated across all fifty states it would represent approximately 2,800 additional deaths, compared to 2019.

One key factor behind the increase in crashes and deaths seems likely to be the fact that many drivers have apparently taken the relatively empty roads to mean that higher speeds can be used. And perhaps they have also assumed that there will be fewer law enforcement officers on the roads.

DPS data shows some interesting variations:

  • 240 motor vehicle occupants compared with 234 reported this time last year;
  • 63 motorcyclists compared with 44 reported this time last year;
  • 41 pedestrians compared with 46 reported this time last year;
  • 10 bicyclists compared with 10 reported this time last year;
  • 110 are speed-related compared with 70 this time last year;
  • 98 are alcohol-related compared with 110 this time last year;
  • 30 are distracted-related compared with 34 this time last year;
  • 94 fatalities involved an unbelted motorist compared with 68 this time last year.

In relation to the speed issue, on December 7th the Minnesota State Patrol published on Facebook that in just one of their northwestern districts they stopped four drivers for doing over 100 mph during the last week of November.

  • 126 mph in a 70 mph zone on Nov. 26 in Clay County. And add two seat belt citations;
  • 106 mph in a 70 mph zone on Nov. 26 near Fergus Falls;
  • 103 mph in a 70 mph zone on Nov. 26 in Douglas County;
  • 100 mph in a 70 mph zone on Nov. 29 in Douglas County. Also ticketed for careless driving due to a lane change that almost caused a crash.
Aren’t America’s Roads Really Safe Already?

Depressingly — and despite beliefs to the contrary — the USA has a very poor track record at keeping people alive on roads. Effectively, America can be categorized as the most unsafe of all 30 developed nations in the world, with a road death rate 4-5 times greater than in the safest nations. Read more.

Because it takes a lot of time and work to bring together all of the traffic safety statistics each year, we likely won’t know the full extent of this astonishingly deadly anomaly until late 2021, and it sounds like it really won’t make nice reading.


Eddie Wren — Executive Director, RS-USA

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