It’s been more than two years since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Seattle, but its effects continue reverberating. One unfortunate trend in the U.S. since 2020 has been an increase in fatal auto accidents. From summer 2020 until this past April, the country experienced seven consecutive quarters where traffic deaths rose.
That tragic streak broke in the second quarter of 2022 when the number of traffic fatalities dropped nearly 5 percent compared to the same period in 2021. However, that still means 10,590 people were killed in automobiles from April to June this year. And the number of deaths for the first half of the year still rose 0.5 percent over 2021. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says we are still at crisis levels.
Possible connection between the pandemic and traffic statistics
When lockdowns and remote working became necessary, traffic safety experts predicted that emptier roads would cause a drop in car accidents and fatalities. But the fact that the roads were so empty actually increased reckless driving tactics like speeding. Some drivers saw the open roads as an invitation to ignore traffic laws. So the accidents that did occur tended to be violent and cause severe injuries.
Start of a positive trend?
Hopefully, the reduction in fatal car accidents is the start of a trend. As more and more people in Seattle and across the country return to the roads, drivers could take more care in heavier traffic. At the same time, deaths in auto accidents will probably be a problem as long as cars, trucks and SUVs are on the road. When a deadly wreck is the result of a driver’s negligence, their victim’s family may have a wrongful death claim to help compensate them for their loss of support, medical and funeral bills and other costs.