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Data released by the New Jersey State Police reveals that road fatalities in the Garden State rose in 2020. There were 524 fatal accidents in New Jersey in both 2018 and 2019, but that figure increased to 553 in 2020. Roads across the United States were far quieter than usual in 2020 due to travel restrictions and stay-at-home-orders, and experts believe that motorists responded to reduced traffic levels by engaging in dangerous behavior like speeding, driving drunk and not wearing seat belts.

Empty roads encourage recklessness

Across the country, fatality rates surged by 30% during the first six months of 2020. When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration analyzed a sample of these accidents, they discovered that a disproportionately high number of them involved drivers who exceeded posted speed limits or got behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or taking drugs. Researchers from the traffic analytics company Inrix came to a similar conclusion after studying 25 accidents that took place in major metropolitan areas including New York and Philadelphia.

Speeds increase by up to 60%

While compiling that report, the researchers noticed vehicle speed increases of up to 60% on highways and 40% in cities. This led to a 31% increase in road deaths despite a reduction in the number of collisions. The researchers also found that motorists continued to drive recklessly even when traffic levels picked up. Traffic volume increased by 22% between August and October of 2020, but the number of accidents rose by 57%.

Pursuing civil remedies

Road users injured in car accidents caused by speeding or drunk drivers may seek compensation by filing lawsuits. When representing accident victims, experienced personal injury attorneys could study police reports to find out if the driver responsible faced charges or investigators discovered evidence of distraction or excessive speed. They may then seek damages to cover their client’s health care expenses, property damage, pain and suffering and lost income.