We published an article recently called “The NHTSA Reports that Highway Fatalities May Be Going Down.” This article outlined a variety of publications that reported on NHTSA findings that there were fewer traffic fatalities in the first quarter of 2022 than in the previous seven quarters.
This statistical drop is excellent news! However, the consensus is that roads are getting more dangerous. With the pandemic potentially causing an outlier in the data, could this be true? Let’s explore why this idea is prevalent in the U.S.
The Pandemic’s Effect
We mentioned this in our previous article, but let’s summarize some data here. In the first quarter of the pandemic, traffic fatalities did decrease due to significantly less traffic on the road. However, in subsequent quarters, this was not the case. Because drivers felt they had more freedom due to less traffic, fatalities spiked. So although we saw a decrease in traffic fatalities in 2022, it is still higher than in 2019. Does this indicate an overarching pattern of increasing danger? Let’s explore more.
Are Police Pulling Over Fewer Drivers?
This NPR article indicates that limiting police stops, combined with a police shortage, is the cause of a potential increase in danger on the road. Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz says: “Some of the officers don't feel like they have enough, adequate time to do the traffic enforcement.” And his city’s data backs this up, finding that his police force is issuing 86% fewer traffic tickets than in 2019.
Policies have also been put in place that limit traffic tickets. However, many of these tickets are “pretextual stops” or “non-moving violations.” These include problems like expired license tags and obstructions hanging from the rearview mirror. While part of the decrease may be due to the officer shortage, another factor may be policy changes.
Is Road Rage on the Rise?
Jerry Insurance Agency LLC conducted a survey and reported on driving since the pandemic. This survey found that 70% of U.S. drivers have experienced a form of road rage during the past year. The data breaks down as follows:
- Aggressive honking – 50%
- Yelling and angry hand gestures – 50%
- One vehicle chasing another – 18%
- A driver leaving a car to confront someone – 17%
As a result, more drivers are arming themselves. 20% of men have said they have a loaded gun in the car, along with 9% of women. Road rage shootings are on the rise. In 2018, there were 70 road rage shooting deaths. By 2022, that number doubled to 141.
Are Newer Vehicles Safer?
When it comes to road safety, one of the most common positives drivers bring up is that newer vehicles are safer. And this is true! It is a silver lining that the vehicles coming out today are safer than those of even just 20 years ago. This is mainly due to six advancements in technology:
- Seat belts
- Electronic stability control (reduces spin-outs and plow-outs)
- Backup camera
- Blind spot detection
- Driver assistance
The NHTSA believes these improved safety technologies saved over 600,000 lives between 1960 and 2012. More technology comes out all the time, making vehicles even safer. Look for advanced safety features when purchasing a new vehicle, as they can be the key to your survival in an accident.
Keep Your Fleet Safe with Azuga
At Azuga, we know your top priority is safety. Your fleet’s safety is our top priority too! That’s why we’ve created comprehensive fleet management software to help you accomplish your fleet’s safety goals easily and accurately. Reach out to one of our fleet experts today to try a demo of our software and see what we can do together.