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Reduced Traffic Congestion Due to COVID-19 Leads to Increased Speeding & Higher Crash Rates

Reduced Traffic Congestion Due to COVID-19 Leads to Increased Speeding & Higher Crash Rates

Fewer Car Crashes in Massachusetts—but a Higher Risk of Fatality

A recent blog posted by Streetsblog USA revealed that, in the time period between March 15 and April 1, 2020, there were 1,044 reported car accidents, resulting in 396 injuries and 11 fatalities. In that same time period last year, there were 3,922 reported accidents, resulting in 1,301 injuries and 18 deaths.

At first glance, these numbers seem like a good thing. There were fewer overall motor vehicle crashes and accident-related deaths during this time period this year compared to last year. In fact, Streetsblog USA reports that crashes declined by a whopping 73% across the commonwealth during this time period.

But, when we look at the data, we see that the injury and death rate has actually increased slightly this year over last. In 2019, around 33% of motor vehicle accidents in Massachusetts resulted in injuries; in 2020, this rate rose to about 38%. And, when it comes to fatality rates, the risk of being killed in a motor vehicle collision in Massachusetts during this 18-day period jumped from about 0.45% in 2019 to approximately 1.05% this year.

What the Data Reveals

So, what do all these statistics prove? Put simply, the increased travel speeds we are seeing on our nation’s highways and roads has led to more severe and more deadly crashes. We already know that speed is a major indicator in predicting the severity of a crash; now, as more people are speeding and engaging in risky driving behavior due to reduced traffic congestion, they are causing more serious crashes.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding has been a factor in about one third of all traffic-related deaths over the past two decades. Driving faster than posted speed limits or too fast for current weather/road conditions can cause motorists to lose control of their vehicles. Speeding also lowers reaction time, making it more difficult to stop or react to changing road conditions safely. Speeding also reduces the effectiveness of automobile safety devices, such as seatbelts and airbags, leading to more severe injuries in the event of a collision and a higher risk of death.

How to Stay Safe

Remember: speeding is never okay. Though it can be tempting to speed on normally congested highways and roads, it is important that you always follow all posted speed limits and drive at an appropriate speed. Additionally, you should always wear a seatbelt and ensure that your passengers wear one as well. The NHTSA reported that, in 2017, 49% of speeding drivers who were involved in fatal accidents were not wearing a seatbelt.

If you are confronted with a speeding or reckless driver, keep your distance. If a driver comes up behind you, put on your blinker and move over when it is safe to do so. Give aggressive drivers a wide berth and do not engage in retaliatory driving behaviors or returned aggression. If you believe your safety is at risk, safely contact local police as soon as you are able to do so.

By practicing safe driving behaviors, including following all applicable speed limits on city streets, suburban roads, and major highways, we can help keep our roads safe. If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident or collision with a speeding, aggressive, or negligent driver, contact Morgan & Murphy to learn how we can help.


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