When the COVID-19 pandemic first swept across the country, fewer drivers were on the roads and less miles were driven. Though there was less traffic on the roads, news has come out that the the U.S. had the highest number of fatal crashes for 2020 in more than a decade. There was also an increase in crashes involving impairment, speeding, red-light running, aggressiveness, and drivers with no seat belts. Car crashes continue to increase, why?

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted research on driver’s behaviors during 2020 and beyond. Here’s what they found:

Less Drivers in Total, More Risky Behaviors

  1. Though less drivers were on the road, 4% of drivers actually increased their driving habits during the pandemic.
  2. Those who increased their driving during the pandemic were more likely to report risky driving behaviors than those who did not increase driving, as shown in the graph below.

Sobering Statistics

In 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported a 6.8% increase (over 2019) in vehicle crash fatalities with a total of 38,8324 people dying during car crashes. This is the highest number since 2007.

NHTSA has released new data for the first nine months of 2021, showing that the increase in fatalities continues with an estimated 31,720 people dying in the first nine months of the year. This is a 12% hike compared to the first nine months of 2020.

Safe Driving Saves Lives

It’s time to commit to safe driving, obey traffic laws, and watch out for each other and for pedestrians. Reading up on tips to avoid collisions and practicing safe driving are good tools to practice, here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Obey speed limits. Drivers tend to overestimate the time saved by speeding. You’d have to travel 100 miles to save roughly 5 minutes, moving at 80 mph instead of 75 mph. Speed kills and isn’t worth the cost. And recent AAA Foundation research shows that small speed increases were enough to raise a driver’s risk of severe injury or death.
  • Only drive sober. If you’re impaired, don’t drive. And if you’re driving, don’t get impaired. Whether you’re consuming alcohol, marijuana, impairing prescription or over-the-counter medications, or other drugs, then just don’t get behind the wheel.
  • Out of sight, out of mind. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features like Apple’s Do Not Disturb. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, but distracted driving affects safety year round. Put down your phones, lives depend on it,
  • Buckle Up. Properly wearing a seat belt is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash. Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of serious injury or death in a crash by up to 50 percent.
  • Stay Cool. AAA encourages drivers to maintain a cool head and focus on reaching their destination safely. If you encounter a dangerous driver, maintain space around your vehicle and contact 9-1-1 if needed.

Make Sure You’re Protected

A rising count of crashes means a rising count of claims, which could affect your insurance rates and premiums.

With AAA, we protect you on and off the road. Our knowledgeable insurance professionals are on hand to help you review your current auto insurance, get a quote, and find the coverage that meets your needs.

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