New York is known worldwide for its notoriously aggressive traffic. What happens, then, when road congestion decreases and many drivers stay home, such as what happened in 2020? Intuition would say that you’d expect fewer motor vehicle accidents, right?
The New York Times reported that driving-related deaths saw an increase of 79%, jumping from 68 in 2019 to 120 in 2020. This dramatic increase in mortality has had a lot of theories. The truth is, it is too early to know for sure why New York has seen the highest level of motor vehicle accident-related deaths in over a decade.
Possible reasons for the dramatic increase
New York is not unique in experiencing a sharp rise in car accident deaths. This phenomenon was seen across the United States. The following are some possible contributing factors:
- High speeds: Seeing streets with little to no traffic has tempted some motorists to speed down vacant highways at reckless speeds. New York’s cameras nabbed nearly twice as many speeding tickets per day.
- Inexperienced motorcycle drivers: 60% of the motorcycle fatalities in 2020 involved drivers that did not have a valid driver’s license. City officials have stated that this contributed to the highest motorcycle mortality rate in over thirty years. Inexperienced motorcycle drivers saw an opportunity to hit the streets while the roadways were wide open and not full of traffic.
- Older drivers stayed home: Older drivers are statistically more cautious and less prone to car accidents. Younger drivers hit the streets out of boredom. This too could have contributed to the rise in traffic fatalities.
- Intoxication: During stressful times, people often turn to substance abuse. It is theorized that an increase in drug and alcohol use has also contributed to the sharp rise in fatalities on the road.
Whatever the reason, it is a fact that 2020 saw a significant increase in motor vehicle deaths across the country. This increase in fatalities from car accidents has undoubtedly left families looking for answers and possible compensation.