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Are drivers getting riskier during lockdown?

Have you been hit by a reckless driver during lockdown? If so, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would not be surprised.

According to that agency, U.S. driving fell by 26% during the lockdown compared to last year. Nationally, that resulted in about 302 fewer traffic deaths. However, the fatality rate actually grew when you consider miles driven.

The fatality rate during April, May and June jumped to 1.42 deaths per 100 million miles driven. That is the highest rate since 2005.

In 2019, the fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled was just 1.10. That was the lowest rate since 2014.

“Drivers who remained on the roads engaged in more risky behavior, including speeding, failing to wear seat belts, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” according to NHTSA.

The trend was so striking that NHTSA’s deputy administrator felt an urgency to take action.

What is behind the increase?

“Far too many drivers saw open roads as an invitation to engage in risky behaviors like speeding, driving under the influence and driving unrestrained,” said the Governors Highway Safety Association, a traffic safety group.

That may be true. In a review of traffic data, NHTSA found that the average speed people are driving increased. Also, extreme speeding increased. And, some states have reported fewer people buckling up.

Another reason for the trend could be decreased traffic enforcement during the lockdown period. That may have led some people to believe that they would not be caught.

Yet another possibility is that more risk-averse drivers, such as older Americans, may be staying off the road as they try to avoid the coronavirus.

Whatever the reason, there is no excuse. Every motorist has a responsibility to drive reasonably safely, no matter what the road conditions. The fact that roads aren’t as packed right now does not justify reckless behavior.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident during the lockdown, you should discuss your situation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.