Despite the dramatically lower number of drivers on the road and miles driven in the United States due to COVID-19, pedestrian deaths skyrocketed, according to new data from the Governors Highway Safety Association. The newly released data show that pedestrian deaths increased by 21 percent from 2019 to 2020, the largest single-year increase ever recorded.
The increase in pedestrian deaths last year is particularly notable. That’s because other data from the National Safety Council shows a 13 percent drop in the number of miles driven across the country. Fewer miles driven should lead to a decrease in pedestrian deaths, but that’s not what happened. Instead, it appears that having fewer drivers on the road caused the remaining drivers to take more risks.
“We believe that the open roads really gave drivers an … invitation marked open season on reckless driving,” said Maureen Vogel, director of communications at the National Security Council, when the NSC released their data earlier this year.
It’s not just pedestrian fatalities that increased at the height of the pandemic. Other research from the NSC indicates that motor-vehicle fatalities shot up by eight percent in 2020, even with fewer drivers on the road and fewer miles driven.
Pedestrian Deaths are Worst in Urban Areas
GHSA researchers said that pedestrian deaths were most common in urban areas because more vehicles on the road and the mix of residential and commercial areas create more potential hazards for pedestrians. They also said that people of color were more likely to die in pedestrian accidents than members of other races, in part because they’re less likely to have access to a vehicle.
The GHSA’s conclusions match up with patterns found in Michigan’s crash data. According to the 2019 Year-End Traffic Crash Statistics report from the Michigan State Police, the highest number of crashes occurred in Kent County, Macomb County, Oakland County, and Wayne County. These areas are home to big cities like Grand Rapids, Warren, Dearborn, and Detroit, making pedestrian accidents much more likely.
Hurt in a Michigan Pedestrian Accident? Call Christensen Law Today
Were you hurt when traveling by foot? Get help from an experienced injury attorney right away. The pedestrian accident lawyers at Christensen Law have decades of experience helping clients recover the compensation they need to put the accident behind them. Call or reach out to us online for a free initial consultation.