According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the pedestrian fatality rate skyrocketed 21% in 2020 – the largest ever annual increase in the pedestrian death rate since data capture began in 1975.
This increase is especially concerning, considering miles traveled on the roadways were down 13.2% from 2019. The GHSA’s analysis found that the cause of this increase is predominantly due to “dangerous driving behaviors — speeding, impaired driving, and distraction — which were widespread on U.S. roads during the pandemic.”
Although travel decreased by more than 13% in 2020, traffic fatalities dramatically rose 7.2% from 2019, bringing the total number of lives lost to 38,680 — the highest number of lost lives since 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA).
With roads essentially free and clear of traffic from the early stages through the peak of the pandemic, the National Safety Council, GHSA, and other safety advocates point to an increase in risky driving behaviors as the cause — which motorists have confirmed themselves.
After the staggering increase in road fatalities in 2020, the GHSA and other State Highway Safety Offices (SHSO) are working together this year to spearhead road safety initiatives in anticipation of increased summer travel.
According to AAA, an estimated 34 million Americans took road trips over this past Memorial Day weekend — a 52% increase over last year.
According to a new survey conducted by State Farm, “Nine out of 10 motorists (89%) said they engaged in at least one of 14 distracted driving behaviors that involved the use of their phone while behind the wheel.” Of the 89% of drivers who engage in distracting behaviors, the survey found that those under age 40 were more likely to say they engaged in any of the 14 distracted behaviors studied.
It is important to note that 36% of drivers update their social media while behind the wheel, 32% take photos, 30% record videos, and 28% play games.