Did the COVID-19 Outbreak Reduce Traffic Fatalities in Georgia?
Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer Casey W. Stevens specializes in personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice law.
2020 was a year of shock and disbelief for the entire world. An insidious virus that had never been seen before took over the thoughts and fears of nearly every human. In Georgia, people were ordered home from their “non-essential” jobs, restaurants were closed and then re-opened at limited capacity. People were not headed out to the movies, on vacations, or traveling to visit family and friends. Fewer outings meant fewer cars on the roadways. So, then that would mean fewer traffic fatalities, right? Wrong.
Imagine our surprise when the National Highway Safety Report came out in early 2021, showing fatalities in Georgia were actually up! According to the study, in 2020 total traffic fatalities in Georgia were 1,664, compared to 1,492 in 2019. Fatalities per 100 million miles driven were also up to 1.43, vs. 1.12 in 2019. Speeding-related fatalities were at 280, as compared to 260 the year prior, and alcohol-impaired fatalities reached 402 over the 355 from the year before. Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities were also up from 236 to 279, and from 21 to 32.
Georgia continued to have higher than the national average deaths on roadways as well. Georgia had 15.54 fatalities per 100,000 population in 2020, while the U.S. had 11.78 and the state with the lowest number of fatalities had only 4.98 deaths per 100,000 population.
Although most of the fatalities did occur in the metro-Atlanta counties, the fatality per population numbers there were much lower than in many rural counties.What Accounts for the Rise in Fatalities During the Initial Surge of COVID?
Increase in Population?
According to the United States Census, Georgia continues to be a state that is growing in population. Subsequently, the approximate .82% growth rate can account for some of the increased fatalities on the roadways. Since speeding fatalities were up by 20, that is a 2.63% increase. These numbers could indicate fewer cars on the roadway means more opportunity to speed.
Reduction in Police Force?
At the same time COVID was surging, there was also a reduction in police officers across the county because of the anti-police sentiment tied to the Black Lives Matter revolution. The Anti-police climate in Georgia was not out of line with what we saw with numerous departments across the nation, due to the negative climate surrounding policing in the United States. The reduction in police officers on the roads and highways may have had an effect on traffic-related fatalities that may have otherwise been prevented.
Increase in Alcohol Consumption Related to Depression?
As the pandemic spiked alcohol consumption across the country. Alcohol-related traffic deaths climbed by a whopping 13.2 percent in Georgia from 2019 to 2020.
In conclusion, it appears that the increase in traffic deaths in Georgia could be correlated to the increase in alcohol consumption, the decrease in the police force, and the increase in opportunities to speed on roadways.