Why Did Traffic Accidents Increase in 2020?

Attorney Ben Barry of Martin, Harding, & Mazzotti, LLP is on the radio with Joe Vega of WIZN explaining why, during the pandemic, traffic accidents actually increased.

Please give it a listen or read the transcript below.

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Joe: 106.7 WIZN, and it’s J. Geils Band with “Centerfold” and Queen with “Killer Queen.” And before that, I’m Joe Vega taking you through your Wednesday Rocking Ride Home. And I’m joined now by Ben Barry from Martin Harding & Mazzotti. Hello, Ben.

Ben: Hello, Joe.

Joe: So, I was recently reading an article about the traffic accidents in 2020. And you thought they would have gone down, because of obviously, there’s less cars on the road, people aren’t going into work due to COVID. But in fact, traffic accidents in a way went up in 2020. And I know, with your work with Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, that’s something you deal with a lot. I was just wondering if you could just give us some insight into that.

Ben: Yeah. We deal with motor vehicle accidents every day, that is quite a significant volume of the work that we do. But actually Joe, the number of accidents, for example, in New York and Vermont, the overall number of motor vehicle accidents went down in 2020. However, the bodily injury that was suffered by the individuals in those accidents tended to be much greater and in fact…

Joe: Really?

Ben: …fatalities nationally went up as compared to the number of accidents. And the reason for that is that with fewer vehicles on the road, less road congestion, people allowed themselves to not be as vigilant, not to be as obedient to traffic control devices.

Joe: Interesting.

Ben: And they were actually traveling at a higher rate of speed. There are a couple states that had some very concerning statistics regarding the rate of speed at which vehicles were traveling, for example, California had some very interesting statistics where the average speed of drivers who were ticketed for speeding offenses was much higher in 2020 than any other year. I think part of that is because there’s fewer cars on the road, people are going faster. The other thing too, is I think that some of the traffic anyways, on the roadways, or at least one of the theories of that, some of the traffic on the roadways was really kind of like de-stressing driving and people are a little bit absent-minded. There were more motorcycle accidents in New York, for example, because a lot of people were resorting to riding around on their motorcycle because that tended to be a way to relieve the stress of the pandemic or being, you know, whatever shut in your house with your wife and your kids and all this other stuff.

And so, people were driving for different reasons as well, during what were traditionally high traffic periods of time. So there were not a lot of joy riders on a Wednesday at noon in 2019. But in 2020, there were a lot of people that had a lot of free time at noon on Wednesdays where you have other vehicles that are, for example, making deliveries and things of that nature who might be speeding or doing what they normally would do feeling like there’s less traffic, and then you have somebody who’s taking a Sunday drive on a Wednesday.

Joe: Yeah. All right, well, I think that the moral of this story is less cars on the road doesn’t mean you should be driving faster.

Ben: No, it doesn’t. And there’s also some projections coming up into 2021 that your listeners should be aware of as well. Whereas people become vaccinated, or as the COVID pandemic hopefully, loosens its grip on our country, the anticipation that there is going to be a lot of travel repression. And so there may be this high influx of drivers on the road in the coming months. And so also you need to be vigilant on the road to deal with that, the road patterns are going to change again. And we are probably going to potentially experience higher volumes on the road into the summer and fall seasons of travel. And so your listeners should be aware of that as well.

Joe: Wow, that’s great advice. That’s great info. All right. Thanks a lot, Ben. Ben Barry from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, remember if you do get into a traffic accident, give him a call at 1800LAW1010 or go online to 1800law1010.com. Thanks for coming on the show, Ben.

Ben: Thanks, Joe. Drive safe.

Joe: All right, Mel Allen is taking over, he’s got music from the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith, coming up next.

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