Fatality rates on the road have continued to rise despite overall miles driven having decreased significantly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
Preliminary estimates based on April data from all 50 states indicate that for the second straight month, roads became even more lethal as miles driven plummeted, the NSC announced. The estimates show a year-over-year 36.6% jump in fatality rates per miles driven in April, in spite of an 18% drop in the total number of roadway deaths compared to April 2019. The actual number of miles driven dropped 40% compared to the same time period last year.
The mileage death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven was 1.47 in April compared to 1.08 in 2019.
Through the first four months of 2020, the following states have experienced notable increases in the number of roadway deaths: Arkansas (24%), Connecticut (45%), Illinois (6%), Louisiana (17%), Minnesota (6%), Nevada (7%), North Carolina (7%) and Oklahoma (6%). Conversely, states with notable decreases include Arizona (-12%), Colorado (-5%), Hawaii (-34%), Idaho (-36%), Indiana (-16%), Iowa (-16%), Maryland (-14%), Michigan (-17%), New Jersey (-9%), Oregon (-28%), South Carolina (-12%) and Washington (-16%).
For the three-day Independence Day holiday, NSC estimates 405 potential fatalities, with alcohol as an expected primary factor in nearly 40% of the deaths.
“Even without traffic, our roads were no safer,” said Lorraine M. Martin, NSC president and CEO. “These numbers underscore our urgent need to change the culture of safety on our roads.”
As was the case in March, quarantines and shelter in place directives across the country account for a significant portion of the drop in the number of deaths. However, reports of increased speeding in several states may account for the rising death rates.
All estimates are subject to slight increases and decreases as the data mature. NSC collects fatality data every month from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics.