The year 2020 is one that most of us would like to forget. But even though we are now in the second month of 2021, there are aspects of last year that we cannot afford to ignore or put behind us yet. Obviously, the pandemic is one such issue, since we are still in the midst of it. But an often-overlooked problem related to the pandemic deserves more scrutiny in order to ensure that it won’t reoccur in the future.
Although full and official data for 2020 isn’t available yet, it is clear from early reports that extremely reckless driving was a major problem – even as traffic volumes fell overall due to stay-at-home orders. A recent article in the New York Times notes that at least 243 people were killed in New York City traffic accidents last year, which is the highest death count since 2014.
In the past, when the U.S. experienced recessions or economic downturns, traffic congestion typically decreased, and traffic deaths decreased accordingly. In 2020, traffic decreased sharply (particularly during Quarter 2), but fatal accidents did not decline proportionally. In fact, they rose by 76 percent compared to 2019. This is likely because many of those who continued to drive took undue advantage of empty streets and highways. Here were just some of the problems:
- A sharp increase in the number of people speeding excessively (often 100 mph or more)
- An increase in the number of people riding motorcycles for the first time or relearning to ride after years or decades off
- Drivers organizing late-night drag races on city streets
The same trends were seen across the United States. Victims were primarily drivers, passengers and riders. Thankfully, here in New York, there were no appreciable increases in pedestrian or bicyclist fatalities.
It is sad that so many people would choose to endanger themselves and others, particularly at a time when all of us were already in danger. We have to hope that such reckless behavior will calm down now that life is gradually returning to normal.
If you were seriously injured or a loved one was killed by a negligent and dangerous driver in 2020, some of these reckless decisions may have been a factor in that accident. To learn more about your legal rights and options, please speak with an experienced personal injury attorney today.