But surprisingly, COVID-19 also caused an increase in traffic fatalities across the United States.
Let’s face it… COVID-19 caused people to drive a lot less. With businesses being closed and a major shift towards WFH (working from home), people were simply driving less. U.S. News and World Report stated that 49% of people in the U.S. surveyed stated they drive less as a result of the global pandemic, and also the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) decreased by 3% nationwide.
And yet the number of traffic fatalities rose (from 2019 to 2021) by 19% both nationwide AND by 21% in Georgia.
How is this even possible?
AAA Foundation Research did a study, and found that high-risk younger men were a larger share (4%) of those who drove even more during the global pandemic. Safety-minded individuals were driving less, and with fewer cars on the road, these higher-risk drivers felt more at liberty to engage in riskier driving behaviors and to break laws. In fact, the study found the following:
Basically, it was the mentality of “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.” In addition, a larger percentage of wrecks involved alcohol and drug use, which is not unexpected, given that many people were affected by depression during the pandemic. Depression also impacted people with distraction and fatigue, which is never a good factor when driving.
When looking at numbers like this, it’s not difficult to understand how the traffic fatality rate increased, even though fewer of us were driving. However, with the global pandemic no longer being considered a public health emergency by the CDC, and with more companies asking employees to return to the office, more drivers are hitting the road once again.
So how can you drive safely in Atlanta, and prevent yourself from becoming a traffic statistic? Stay tuned for the final installment of our series to find out.