A new American Driving Survey from the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed multiple trends in traffic habits since COVID-19 in 2020 and continuing into 2021.
There were multiple findings in the study, with one of those being that the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said that they see a climb in motor vehicle crashes.
The summarized news release on AAA’s website stated that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), both the traffic fatality rate (deaths per mile driven) and the total traffic fatalities increased halfway through 2020, which then “appeared to have been sustained throughout 2021, the deadliest year on the roads since 2005.”
This trend has remained relatively consistent in Highland County as well. According to statistics from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the county saw seven traffic fatalities in 2018 and then only two in 2019. Following what the study found, the number jumped considerably in 2020, going up to 10 traffic deaths for the year in Highland County.
That number remained high the following year, with eight people dying from traffic-related accidents in 2021. That trend appears to be continuing in 2022, because as of Oct. 7, 2022, there have been six traffic fatalities in Highland County.
Other data from the NHTSA for the rest of the country said that teenagers and young adults were the “vast majority” of the rise in traffic fatalities in 2020 compared to the 2019 numbers. Prior research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in 2014-15 showed that younger drivers generally have higher crash rates that would result in injuries or deaths.
The AAA summary release stated that other studies that weren’t specified said people with lower levels of education and people who live in lower-income communities are more likely to die in crashes.
The newest data from the recent American Driving Survey said that those prior groups were the ones that spent the most time on the road during the pandemic.
“These findings suggest our go-to fixes for crash and injury prevention won’t work like they used to,” Jake Nelson, AAA traffic safety advocacy and research director, said. “Road authorities will need to customize solutions for people overrepresented in these crashes in order to truly turn the tide on traffic deaths in the U.S.”
According to the study, prior to the pandemic, people with higher levels of education were the people that drove longer and farther. However, the remote work change during COVID-19 changed that aspect, with many college-educated employees now able to work from home, with younger adults and those with lower levels of education less likely to be able to have the option to work remotely.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.