Fatality rates on the road rose for the third month in the row, and were up 23.5%, despite far less traffic on the roads, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
Preliminary estimates from the NSC based on May data from all 50 states found the number of miles driven in May dropped 25.5% compared to the year prior, according to the NSC. The increased rate comes in spite of an estimated 8% drop in the number of deaths for May compared to the prior year.
The mileage death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven was 1.47 in May compared to 1.19 in 2019. After three straight years of rising fatality numbers between 2015 and 2017, the country had been experiencing a leveling off and small decline in overall fatalities. Further, employers are sending employees back to work, meaning commutes are resuming – and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of workplace deaths.
"As motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of workplace fatalities, transportation safety should be integral to every organization," said Lorraine M. Martin, NSC president and CEO. "An employer’s reopening strategy is an opportunity to emphasize and reiterate the need for safe streets, as well as safe workplace transportation. Employers can make a real difference in improving safety on our roadways, helping to protect their employees, as well as other road users."
Through the first five months of 2020, the following six states experienced notable increases in the number of roadway deaths: New Hampshire (63%), Connecticut (39%), Louisiana (15%), Missouri (12%), Arkansas (10%) and North Carolina (6%).
Nine states with notable decreases were: Tennessee (down 58%), Wyoming (down 52%), Mississippi (down 21%), Maryland (down 18%), Michigan (down 13%), South Carolina (down 13%), Pennsylvania (down 13%), Arizona (down 10%), and Florida (down 4%).
The NSC has tracked motor vehicle fatality trends and issued estimates for nearly 100 years. 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.