As we all recall, one of the first impacts of the pandemic was a drastic reduction in the number of cars on the roads nationally as a result of the COVID-19 enforced lockdowns. However, studies conducted during the pandemic reflected that even with a reduction in the amount of traffic, fatal traffic accidents have been on the rise.
And so far, over the last year, that national trend is continuing, with Maryland very much in line with the national numbers.
Prior to the pandemic, Maryland saw approximately 115,000-120,000 accidents annually based on information from the Maryland Highway Safety Office (MHSO). However, in 2020, there was an almost 20% reduction in the number of total accidents, down to 95,507. However, despite this significant reduction in the number of accidents, there was a 7% spike in the number of traffic fatalities. That number tracked the national statistics almost exactly – according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the national average was around 6.8%.
What makes these numbers especially fascinating is that fatal accidents were the only type of accident to experience an increase in 2020. Accidents involving non-fatal injuries were about 23% lower than in prior years and accident involving only property damage declined by about 16%.
There are a number of theories explaining this apparent anomaly. First, less traffic on the roadways likely meant more instances of individuals speeding and driving more aggressively than would otherwise have been the case if the roads had been busier. Second, many people went weeks if not months without driving every day and that likely affected their driving skills and reflexes adversely. Certainly, it is not difficult to imagine how delayed response time (even minimal) could have disastrous consequences on the roadway.
Maryland also saw an increase in risky driving fatalities in 2020 — and in most cases, exceeded the national numbers. Maryland saw increased fatalities as a result of speeding and unrestrained vehicle occupants and saw an even larger increase in distracted driving fatalities. However, although nationwide impaired driving crash fatalities increased, Maryland saw a significant drop.
Looking at the statistics in raw numbers provides additional context as well. In 2020, there were 573 deaths on Maryland roads. In 2021, that number dropped to 559 (again with a lot less traffic).
And so far to date in 2022 – as of the writing of this post – there were 165 traffic-related fatalities in Maryland Over the same period in 2021, that number was 153.
The most important takeaway from this information is that people should not assume that fewer cars and less traffic equate to safer travel. In fact, it appears that the opposite may be true if you measure safety based on fatality numbers as opposed to number of accidents. So please stay vigilant and be safe. With summer on its way, many of us are likely driving with our families (or friends) to the beach or other vacation destination and it will behoove us all to be a little more careful and safe. Let’s make sure that the remainder of 2022 corrects the current trend of increasing traffic deaths in Maryland.
If you have been the victim of a car accident in Baltimore or anywhere else in Maryland, and you are not sure of your rights, call one of the best car accident attorneys in Maryland – Neil Dubovsky. We can schedule a free consultation to begin the process of investigating your personal injury case. There is no risk to you and we do not receive any compensation unless and until we obtain a recovery.
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