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Record High NYC Traffic Fatalities in 2020 Despite Fewer Cars

May 31, 2021
2020 Was a Record Year for NYC Traffic Fatalities

2020 was a year for the record books in many ways. The pandemic left us reeling and kept cars off our city streets, but the upshot of this decrease in traffic isn’t what you’d think. In fact, the New York Times reports that New York City saw a rise in traffic fatalities in 2020. Further, this trend isn’t specific to NYC. Across the nation, traffic fatality rates have soared, while traffic itself has languished.

Defying Historical Trends

Historically, during times of economic downturn and lessened traffic congestion, fatal traffic accidents have also trended downward, but the pandemic seems to have fueled something else in us. In 2020, there were 243 traffic fatalities in New York City, which makes it the deadliest year since Mayor de Blasio’s implemented his bold plan to improve the safety of our city streets, which was launched in 2014. Further, the national fatality rate for the second quarter of 2020 – at the pandemic’s outset – was up 30 percent over the year’s first quarter.

What’s Going On?

People who were cooped up due to lockdowns and social distancing seem to have taken to the streets to find new outlets and new forms of entertainment. In 2020, we saw motorists careening down newly vacant highways and motorcyclists who’d given up their bikes – or who had never been on a motorcycle before – take to the streets in record numbers. Further, big cities across the country saw a resurgence in after-hours drag racing.

The Startling Effects

All of the following speak to the startling effects the pandemic and its attendant decrease in traffic have had on highways and byways across America:

  • In California, tickets for traveling at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour shot up by 87 percent.
  • The automated cameras in NYC issued almost twice the number of daily speeding tickets.
  • The speed of rush hour traffic in Brooklyn and Queens rose by more than 80 percent.
  • In a two-week period in April, state troopers in Georgia cited 140 drivers for topping the speed of 100 miles per hour.
  • Motorcyclist deaths across the nation reached a 30-year high, and about 60 percent of these accidents involved bikers who had no motorcycle license.

On the upside, although the number of bicyclists surged during the pandemic, the number of fatal bike accidents for the year held steady. Further, pedestrian fatalities hit a record low in 2020. While it seems only logical that the pandemic’s stay-at-home mentality would lead to fewer traffic fatalities, this is not the way it happened.

Discuss Your Claim with an Experienced NYC Car Accident Attorney Today

If another motorist’s negligence leaves you injured, the practiced car accident attorneys at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman in NYC are well-positioned to skillfully advocate for the compensation to which you are entitled. Our focused legal team is on your side and ready to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at 212-285-3300 for more information today.


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