Risky Driving Behaviors Despite COVID-19

Now that the first half of 2020 has ended, and we are in the last quarter of the year, new information and projected data has been released concerning risky driving behaviors for both teens and adults. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released the results from the 2019 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). This report shows the fatalities in motor vehicle crashes in 2019 and projections for the first half of 2020.

Thus far there is a 2 percent decrease in the estimated number of people who have died in the first half of the year compared to the first half of 2019.1 The total number of fatalities in 2019 decreased compared to the fatalities in 2018. Due to COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, the total traffic volume decreased by over 16 percent during the first half of the year. Although, the total traffic volume and total traffic deaths have decreased from the previous years, there are other safety concerns that have increased during this time. The fatality rate during the second quarter of 2020 increased to 1.42 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) compared to 1.10 fatalities per 100 million VMT during the first quarter of the year.4 The reason for the growing concern is that if people traveled less during this time, then why did the total fatalities increase?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a data report collected from a wide variety of resources that states that people who were still driving during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, were participating in at least one risky driving behavior. These behaviors included speeding, failing to wear a seat belt, and driving under the influence. The overall average speed of all drivers increased as well. These behaviors were determined by an increase in ejection rates and  evidence of alcohol and drugs in people who were involved in crashes.

With health and wellness currently being a top priority for everyone across the world. It is important to keep road safety as a top priority as well. This includes wearing a seat belt, avoiding excessive speeding, not driving and the influence, and avoiding aggressive driving.

  • Wear your seat belt every time you get in the car. Seat belts can be very effective if worn properly. This means making sure the lap belt is placed across your hip bone not your stomach and that the shoulder belt is placed across your chest and not behind your back.
  • Aggressive driving is considered excessive speeding over the limit as well as following too closely, improper passing and lane change, red-light running, failure to yield, and changing lanes without signaling.
  • If you are under the influence, use a ride-sharing app to get home or designate someone to be the sober driver.
  • You should avoid speeding whether there are les cars on the roads or not. The idea that it may be okay to go over the speed limit because there are less cars on the road can give drivers a false sense of security. Drivers can receive as little as one and as many eight points on their license for speeding over the printed speed zone. If the speeding violation resulted in a crash additional points may be issued.

It is important to practice safe driving behaviors for yourself, your loved ones, and your teen driver. For more information on how to keep your children safe at home, click here.