Pandemic lockdowns and stay-at-home orders led to a 13% drop in miles driven in the U.S. last year. But according to the National Safety Council (NSC), the number of people who died in motor vehicle crashes jumped 8%.
“It is tragic that in the U.S., we took cars off the roads and didn’t reap any safety benefits,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the NSC, in a press release. “These data expose our lack of an effective roadway safety culture. It is past time to address roadway safety holistically and effectively.”
According to preliminary estimated data, up to 42,060 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020. This is the highest MVC death count since 2007. The increase in MVC deaths combined with the decrease in miles driven have led to a 24% spike in the mileage death rate — the highest year-over-year increase since 1924.
The increase in motor vehicle fatalities did not affect all states equally. According to the NSC, the estimated number of road deaths increased more than 15% in eight jurisdictions:
|State/District||Increase in number of MVC deaths|
|District of Columbia||33%|
According to the NSC, motor vehicle deaths decreased in only nine states: Hawaii (-20%), Wyoming (-13%), Delaware (-11%), Nebraska (-9%), Idaho (-7%), New Mexico (-4%), Alaska (-3%), Maine (-1%) and North Dakota (-1%).