During the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer drivers were seen on Bay Area roads. In most cases, fewer drivers would mean fewer fatalities. However, road deaths held steady in the region and even climbed in some areas well past pre-pandemic fatality numbers.
What is going on? What has caused more traffic fatalities? It is certain driving behaviors behind these serious crashes that lead to untold heartache for some families and a lifetime of adjusting to debilitating injuries for others.
Fatal and severe crashes climbed
While road crashes in the Bay Area dropped, fatalities continued on a strong pace, according to data assembled by the University of California, Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System and reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle.
What they found was startling. The 462 fatalities recorded in 2020 in the nine-county region were only 30 fewer than in 2019. However, crashes plummeted 30% during that same timeframe. Crashes with minor injuries declined, but the rate of fatal and severe crashes increased.
Risky driving behaviors
The likely reason for the increase continues to be drivers subscribing to risky behaviors such as speeding, not wearing seat belts and driving while impaired. A few drivers thumbing their noses at understaffed law enforcement agencies continue to prove detrimental to safety-conscious drivers.
Nationwide, the numbers seem to have parallels with those in the Bay Area. Fatal crashes in the U.S. rose during the pandemic. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted that in 2020 an estimated 38,680 people died in U.S. traffic crashes, the highest number of road fatalities since 2007. The number marked a 7% increase in U.S. traffic deaths while driving activity fell by 13%.
Remain alert to risky drivers
Such findings continue to raise great concern throughout the Bay Area and the rest of the country. Please be on the alert to reckless and distracted drivers whose actions may lead to tragedy and life-altering injuries to unsuspecting drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.