The reckless driving trend that started to skyrocket during the pandemic represented a somewhat surprising twist. Fewer cars were on the road, which generally would have meant safer freeways, highways, and streets. Jobs were lost. Large offices remained empty as staff worked at home.
The new normal saw drivers speeding and operating their vehicles recklessly. Motor vehicle accidents were on the increase. In addition to car-on-car accidents, pedestrian-related collisions also surged, with many resulting in fatalities that are reaching record rates.
As to the question of “why,” some see it as a breakdown of social norms during a time when unprecedented lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, and other restrictions became the law of the land.
Pedestrian deaths skyrocket
The Governors Highway Safety Association reported that during the first year of the pandemic, more than 6,700 pedestrians lost their lives, up from 6,412 in 2019. When factoring in vehicle miles traveled, the death rate spiked 21 percent, representing the largest recorded year-over-year increase. Looking at 2021, data reveals a grimly higher number.
Over the past decade, pedestrian deaths have grown to 46 percent. All other crashes saw five percent increases. A significant factor could be the growing trend of consumers to purchase SUVs and pickup trucks, a portion of the motor vehicle market that accounts for three out of four purchases. The larger the vehicle, the greater the blind spots and higher than standard hoods that could “hide” pedestrians walking in front of the trucks.
Frustrations reached a boiling point after two years of a COVID-19 pandemic. Leaving home to travel on the roads may have seen frustration taking the form of reckless and aggressive driving techniques that found more pedestrians than other motor vehicles.