As the coronavirus pandemic enters its third year, reckless driving across America is taking the lives of pedestrians in unprecedented numbers.
Reportedly, rising anxiety, pandemic drinking, and deteriorating social norms are resulting in surging accidents, which contribute to the death of pedestrians.
Pedestrians more vulnerable to death now than ever
New Mexico reported 99 pedestrian deaths in 2021 alone, compared to 81 in 2020 and 83 in 2019. This was the highest ever recorded pedestrian deaths in a single year in the state.
New Mexico was not the only state affected by rash driving.
New Jersey, for instance, reported the highest number of pedestrian deaths in 2021 in 30 years. Utah reported along the same lines, as pedestrian deaths in the state rose by 22 percent last year.
According to the New York Times, the start of the pandemic raised hopes that traffic-related deaths would finally reduce, as more vehicles would be off the roads.
However, empty roads allowed drivers to drive faster than before, resulting in a spike in accidents.
The director of Stanford Medical School’s Center on Stress and Health, Dr. David Spigel, indicated people are tired of the virus so much they are behaving strangely on roads.
US traffic deaths rose 7% last year, the biggest increase in 13 years even though people drove fewer miles due to the pandemic, the government’s road safety agency reported. https://t.co/PqyewwuXL1
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 4, 2021
Similarly, he asserted that “social disengagement” is happening, which is depriving people of getting comfort from social contact.
This social contact is a major source of pleasure for people in any society; the lack of it encourages people to pay less attention while driving.
According to the data of the Governors Highway Safety Association, over 6,700 pedestrians were killed in crashes in 2020 compared to 6,412 in 2019.
The association also noted that vehicle crashes increased by 46 percent in the last decade, compared to a five percent increase for all other crashes.
One of the major issues of concern for authorities is all of this is happening despite lowered numbers of cars on roads.
Vehicle miles traveled, a metric used to measure road safety in the world, is worrying officials; according to this metric, the fatality rate increased by almost 21 percent in 2020.
Anger is mounting in Americans amid the pandemic
Angie Schmitt, a writer in the sustainable transportation niche, called the trend a “silent epidemic,” stating the older population is more vulnerable to these accidents.
She also suggested the size of SUVs and trucks is increasing; their front ends are getting heavier, which makes them more dangerous for pedestrians in case of any crash.
If you are feeling a high amount of anxiety right now, that's OK.
We are in a historic pandemic, where a virus is being allowed to spread by governments that refuse to do anything but the bare minimum.
Anxiety, stress, fear & anger are all understandable feelings right now.
— Dr. Lucky Tran (@luckytran) December 22, 2021
Other experts have established that newer vehicles are safer for those who are inside them, which makes drivers negligent about pedestrians.
A senior transportation official at the University of Washington, Mark Hallenbeck, claimed people nowadays are “frustrated, and enraged,” which is also shown in their driving.
According to him, people are likely to behave gently while face to face; however, they behave strangely when they are hidden in large vehicles.