A new survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has revealed how much Americans drove during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
According to survey responses, drivers returned to the road in a big way in 2021, after a dramatic decrease in travel in 2020. Survey data also reveals that younger drivers and people whose highest level of education is high school spent the most time driving and reported the most miles driven during this period.
Before the pandemic, people with higher levels of education were the ones who typically drove longer and farther. The shift to remote work during COVID changed that, as many college-educated employees were able to work from home. In contrast, younger adults and people with lower levels of education are less likely to have the option to work remotely.
The AAA said at the same time, a rise in the number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes had also been seen. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), both the traffic fatality rate (deaths per mile driven) and total traffic fatalities increased halfway through 2020, and that increase appears to have been sustained throughout 2021. NHTSA’s data also shows teenagers and young adults accounted for most of the increase in traffic fatalities in 2020, relative to 2019.
“These findings suggest our ‘go-to’ fixes for crash and injury prevention won’t work like they used to,” said AAA traffic safety advocacy and research director Jake Nelson. “Road authorities will need to customize solutions for people overrepresented in these crashes in order to truly turn the tide on traffic deaths in the US.”