Preliminary reports from the Federal Highway Administration (F.H.W.A.) show that traffic fatalities across Connecticut are officially rising. According to recent data analyzing traffic fatality reports between 2020 and 2021, Connecticut has seen a 10% jump in fatal motor vehicle accidents in the last two years, slightly higher than the national average increase. Preliminary fatality rates for Connecticut are predicted to result in at least 327 for 2020 compared to 295 fatalities in 2019.
Unfortunately, this deadly trend extends far beyond the Connecticut border, affecting most other states across the country. In 2021, the F.H.W.A. reports at least 42,915 Americans were killed in motor vehicle accidents, a devastating 16-year-high and a 10.5% increase from 2020.
What’s Causing Connecticut Traffic Fatalities to Rise
There were several pandemic-related factors to consider when looking at the F.H.W.A. data on why traffic fatalities rates rose from 2020 to 2021, most of which are still present today. Connecticut motorists need to understand the dangers of these factors and how they affect their daily driving habits to help everyone on the road.
More Cars on the Road
When the initial lockdowns lifted, most Americans were comfortable leaving their homes again and hit the road for work and travel. Unfortunately, because so many cars hit the road at once, congestion-related accidents rose significantly.
Accidents are bound to occur when you have millions of cars operating on the same roads. We see this every holiday weekend when AAA warns everyone about the tens of millions of vehicles predicted to travel. Unfortunately, most motorists on the road after lockdowns had taken a significant break from driving when the pandemic hit. Lack of experience and practice can lead drivers to make small errors that could prove deadly on congested and chaotic roads.
Cars Driving More Miles
Not only are there more cars on the road, but the F.H.W.A.’s reports also found that prolonged periods of lockdowns caused a spike in how often and far Americans were driving when finally free to flee. Cross-country and cross-state driving escalated with eager road travelers almost instantly. In 2021, the vehicle miles traveled by Americans increased by 325.2 billion, 11.2% compared to the year prior.
The more you are on the road as a driver, the higher your chances are of getting into a vehicle accident. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.), long car rides are precursors to driver fatigue that can impair your abilities and judgment. Driving is often a monotonous task. When a driver is experiencing fatigue, this may result in nodding off, slow reaction times, drifting, tunnel vision, and other known effects leading to vehicle accidents.
Even though there were fewer cars on the road at the beginning of the pandemic, studies showed that more people were dying in car accidents. An article in Connecticut Public contributed this phenomenon to an uptick in reckless driving on empty roads. More drivers were hitting top speeds taking advantage of no traffic, and causing catastrophic damages when accidents occurred.
In addition, many drivers are not following the rules of the road, and we have all seen speeding drivers weaving in and out of lanes on the highway, terrifying other drivers. It is a cascading effect on everyone else—people think that if others are not following the rules of the road, then they don’t have to either—and it can lead to total chaos.
Ineffective Traffic Pattern
Cities that entirely shut down during the pandemic changed significantly before traffic returned to pre-pandemic levels. The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy reported that several municipalities had been forced to entirely re-evaluate their typical traffic patterns to reduce congestion and safely incorporate pedestrians and cyclists to reduce fatal accidents.
How to Drive Safe on Post-Pandemic Roads
As Connecticut continues to recover from the return of pre-pandemic traffic, it’s essential to remember the basic safe driving habits as the first step in keeping our roadways safe. Here are some general safe driving habits all motorists should adopt every time they get behind the wheel:
- Avoid speeding at all costs. Speeding increases your chances of getting into an accident and the severity of the damages and injuries.
- Always use your turn signals and abide by stoplights and stop signs.
- Stay alert to local traffic patterns and changes. If there is construction, approach with care to avoid the need for sudden movements.
- Follow all local traffic laws and rules of the road to keep you and your fellow drivers safe.
- Consider taking a defensive driving course to brush up on traffic safety.
- Call the police if you see people driving erratically or recklessly.
Jacobs & Wallace Motor Vehicle Accident Attorneys
If you or someone you love is injured in an accident, you need an experienced law firm to represent you. Jacobs & Wallace, PLLC, has decades of experience fighting for the rights of Connecticut’s injured victims. Make people accountable for their actions! Please contact us today for a FREE case evaluation: 203-332-7700.