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North Carolina traffic is down, but fatal car wrecks are not

There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has rearranged life in Raleigh and around the world. A drive around the city makes some of the profound changes to our economy and social lives clear.

Traffic across the state is down 40 percent to 50 percent, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Unsurprisingly, the reduction in traffic has resulted in a reduction in motor vehicle crashes, too.

Raleigh police officers have responded to about half as many vehicle accident calls since late March as they did in that time frame last year.

The changes in traffic can be seen and heard in TV commercials, too, in which auto insurance companies tell viewers that they have refunded hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums due to a dramatic decrease in car crash claims across the country.

When you add those observations and facts together, you might well conclude that fatal crashes in North Carolina are way down, too - but that is, unfortunately, simply not so.

Through May 8, there had been 443 people killed in crashes across the state - only one less than were killed in that same period in 2019.

The director of the Governor's Highway Traffic Safety Program said, "People have been under quarantine, so it's logical to expect to see more of a decline than we're seeing. It's just odd that it's not the case."

Also strange: the Department of Motor Vehicles says that through early March, fatal crashes were down more than 5 percent compared to last year. So it appears that the rate of deadly wrecks has actually picked up in 2020 since Gov. Cooper's stay-at-home directive went into effect on March 30.

Other statistical facts from the DMV:

  • Down more than 30 percent: fatal wrecks this year involving alcohol
  • Down nearly 16 percent: deadly crashes involving drivers age 65 and above
  • Down 9 percent: pedestrian fatalities this year
  • Up 100 percent: fatal crashes involving North Carolina bicyclists

If you or a loved one has been harmed in a traffic crash due to someone else's negligence, contact a Raleigh law firm experienced in personal injury and wrongful death litigation.

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