Car Travel Drops, But Accidents Increase
New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s New American Driving Survey (2020) showed the average number of all daily car trips at the start of the pandemic dropped by 45% as COVID-19 and associated restrictions led to a drastic drop in road travel. Daily trips rebounded in May and June but remained 20-25% below their 2019 levels during the remainder of 2020.
According to the research in April 2020:
* Trips by all modes of transportation plunged by 40%
* The average number of daily trips for all modes of transportation fell from 3.7 trips per day (2019) to 2.2 trips.
Other key findings:
* Daily Car trips: Fell from 3.2 pre-pandemic to 1.8 in April 2020, before rebounding slightly to 2.6 trips for the rest of 2020.
* Travel by Urban Areas: Daily trips dropped 42% (compared to 25% for those living in Suburban areas), before leveling off to a 20%-30% reduction.
* Travel by transit, taxi, or rideshare: The proportion of people who reported making any trips by transit, taxi, or rideshare plummeted from 5.5% pre-pandemic to 1.7% in April of 2020, before leveling off at approximately 2.4% for the remainder of the year.
* Commuter Travel: Work-related travel by all transportation modes dropped by 40% in April 2020, likely reflecting a mix of layoffs, job losses, and telecommuting. Commuting trips made by workers on days when they worked decreased by approximately 22%. For the remainder of the year, commuting trips were approximately 26% below pre-pandemic levels.
Car Fatalities Rise despite less travel in 2020
Despite fewer cars on the road and more people staying home, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently estimated that 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020 — an increase of about 7.2% over 2019 and the largest projected number of fatalities since 2007.
The most recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Traffic Safety Culture Index found that drivers perceive distracted, aggressive and impaired driving as dangerous. Yet, many drivers admitted to engaging in at least one of these behaviors in the 30 days prior to the survey.