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Road traffic has significantly decreased over the past year. With fewer people commuting during the Coronavirus pandemic, areas previously known for congestion have become mostly clear for those still traveling.

While these conditions may sound ideal, near-empty roads have resulted in more dangerous driving behaviors. Based on data from a Hearst Connecticut Media Group analysis, fewer crashes occurred across the state but the number of fatal accidents increased.

About the Study

driver speeding on open roadFigures from the UConn Crash Data Repository show car accidents are down nearly 33 percent from January through October 2020, compared to the previous year. Accidents that caused injury to passengers also dropped 24 percent.

These decreases are to be expected, as pandemic lockdowns have correlated with fewer overall car accidents. Yet this statistic is not all good news: Single-vehicle crashes increased 2.29 times year-over-year and fatalities increased four times.

Fatal Crashes

A report in the Journal Inquirer highlighted the notable increase in year-over-year fatal accidents. In 2020, there were 306 total traffic deaths – the highest since 2016.

The shift in Connecticut reflects national trends. Based on data from the National Safety Council, the number of motor vehicle deaths grew eight percent in 2020 compared to the year before, with some states seeing jumps as high as 15 percent.

Why Have Fatal Accidents Increased?

The following driving behaviors have fueled an increase in fatal car accidents:

  • Speeding Drivers: Based on figures from the Connecticut Transportation Institute, motorists have been driving faster overall. When a crash occurs, speed can make the wreck worse and increases fatality risk. Aside from decreased congestion, seeing fewer vehicles on the road can cause drivers to lose a frame of reference for their own speed and they may travel faster.
  • Stressed Drivers: This factor could be behind the increase in single-vehicle crashes. Due to work and pandemic-related stress, it’s estimated that motorists have a higher likelihood of driving under the influence or being distracted behind the wheel.
  • Decreased Law Enforcement Presence: Based on figures from multiple Connecticut towns, traffic stops and tickets are down more than 50 percent year-over-year, yet car thefts and break-ins have gone up over the same period.

How to Prevent Distractions

Distracted driving continues to be a leading factor in car accidents. Beyond cell phone use, whenever you’re unable to give your full attention to driving, it’s a distraction. To be a safe driver, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Stow your phone away to avoid the temptation.
  2. If you need to make a phone call or send a text, pull over in a safe location.
  3. Adjust the mirrors, seating, radio and configure the GPS before you start driving.
  4. Do not let pets roam into the front seat.
  5. Avoid eating and drinking, especially messy foods.

Were you the victim of a reckless motorist? Turn to the car accident lawyers at Trantolo & Trantolo. To pursue your claim, contact us today.