Roads across America have become more lethal despite the number of miles driven having plummeted, according to the latest data from the National Safety Council (NSC).
Preliminary NSC estimates show a year-over-year 36.6 percent jump in fatality rates per miles driven in April, in spite of an 18 percent drop in the total number of roadway deaths compared to April 2019. The actual number of miles driven dropped 40 percent 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.
“Even without traffic, our roads were no safer,” said Lorraine M. Martin, NSC president and CEO. “It is heartbreaking to see the carnage on our roadways continue, especially when our medical professionals should be able to focus intently on treating a pandemic rather than preventable car crashes. These numbers underscore our urgent need to change the culture of safety on our roads.”
Through the first four months of 2020, the following states experienced notable increases in the number of roadway deaths: Arkansas (24 percent), Connecticut (45 percent), Illinois (six percent), Louisiana (17 percent), Minnesota (six percent), Nevada (seven percent), North Carolina (seven percent) and Oklahoma (six percent).
States with notable decreases included Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington.
For the three-day Independence Day holiday period starting at 6 p.m. ET Thursday, July 2, NSC estimates 405 potential fatalities, with alcohol as an expected primary factor in nearly 40 percent of the deaths.
According to NSC, 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.