One of the most troubling trends in the world of automobile safety has been the sustained national increase in car accident deaths since 2020, despite an overall decrease in the number of miles that people are driving every day. According to a report by the New York Times, the national death rate on our roads has surged by 20% since 2019, which is the worst increase since the 1940s.
Locally, in Dutchess, Orange and Ulster Counties, the car accident death trend is less pronounced, but vehicle deaths are slightly up from pre-pandemic levels.
In 2021, we wrote about these trends. At the time, traffic safety officials surmised that fewer cars on the road during COVID-19 lockdowns meant that drivers had a higher average speed, paid less attention, and took more risks while driving.
Since vehicle deaths have continued to increase despite auto traffic coming back to normal, the recent New York Times report adds onto this thesis.
“The most plausible remaining theories tend to involve the mental health problems caused by Covid’s isolation and disruption. Alcohol and drug abuse have increased. Impulsive behavior, like running red lights and failing to wear seatbelts, also seems to have risen (as my colleague Simon Romero has reported). Many Americans have felt frustrated or unhappy, and it seems to have affected their driving.”
“One encouraging data point that’s consistent with this theory: The most recent data shows that vehicle deaths declined modestly this spring, as Covid restrictions continued to recede.”
According to the most recent data from the Institute for Traffic Safety, Management & Research, most auto accidents in the Mid-Hudson Valley are caused by driver inattention or distraction, following too closely, failing to yield right-of-way, or passing lane maneuvers.
Other dynamics since the advent of COVID-19 have changed the world of personal injury law. Although the laws for obtaining compensation after being injured in a car crash remain the same, the American Property Casualty Insurance said last year that:
- The costs of accidents are surging due to supply chain issues and inflation
- Rental cars are harder to come by after an accident
- Fatalities have increased
- The cost of medical care is outpacing inflation
- Bodily injury severity has increased due to more serious accidents
- Purchasing a replacement vehicle is more expensive
- Repairs take longer due to supply chain issues