The stay-at-home during the pandemic emptied roads in 2020 but motorists fell to the temptations of driving faster and engaging in other reckless behavior. Fatalities from motor vehicle wrecks and other disturbing trends rose last year according to a recent report by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
Impaired and distracted driving increased last year while seat belt use dropped. This led to a higher overall fatality rate in the first half of 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Advocates recommended that states adopt 390 highway safety laws to reverse this trend. It proposed 16 laws specifically addressing distracted driving, impaired driving, occupant protection, child passenger safety, and graduated driving licensing.
There were more than 5,000 fatalities in wrecks involving trucks in 2019, according to the report. This was a 48 percent rise since the record low reported in 2009. Also, 159,000 people suffered injuries in large truck wrecks in 2019. Injuries of large truck occupants rose by 18 percent.
Several safety improvements on large trucks could help prevent these wrecks, according to Advocates. Technologies such as automatic emergency braking and speed limiting devices should be installed as standard equipment on trucks.
Trucking industry analysts predict that requirements for speed limiters and improved rear trailer underride guards and side guards may be considered this year. Rear impact guards have been required for most commercial vehicles for almost 70 years but are not included on the list of items for annual vehicle inspections.
The trucking industry has usually objected to regulations upgrading the standards for rear underride guards and placing side underride guards on trailers because of their weight and a cost-benefit analysis. But it is possible that regulations requiring these improvements may be issued.
Costs of waiting
There were almost 600,000 traffic fatalities and 40 million people injured in wrecks during the 20 years Advocacy issued its safety recommendation reports. In addition to improved laws, better technologies could have helped prevented this toll.
Accident victims can face exorbitant medical costs and suffer other losses. An attorney can help them, and their families seek compensation from a reckless of negligent driver.