Why Are Traffic-Related Deaths Increasing During COVID-19?
Stay-at-home orders intend to protect public health and safety. However, they have resulted in an alarming rate of traffic fatalities in Seattle also mentioned by The Seattle Times.
Preliminary data from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) reveals that nearly the same number of people died in 2020 as in 2019. 24 people died, 13 of which were pedestrians. Compare this to 2019, which totaled 26 traffic deaths.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced hundreds of thousands of residents to stay indoors, reducing the number of drivers on the road. With streets being so empty over the past several months, why are traffic fatalities so high in 2020? Data shows that the following factors caused most of the crashes in 2020:
- Distracted driving (i.e., texting and driving)
- Impaired driving
- Failing to yield to pedestrians
What Is the SDOT Doing to Improve Traffic Safety?
SDOT Vision Zero coordinator, Allison Schwartz, believes that Seattle needs an updated plan of action to satisfy the needs and comforts of human beings rather than the “fast and free movement of vehicles.” Schwartz explains that although improvements have been made for vehicle safety, homeless and elderly people are disproportionately impacted by deadly crashes.
She adds that many high-injury streets, such as Rainier Avenue or Lake City Way, pass through Black and Indigenous communities as well as communities of color. As a result, the SDOT will revise its enforcement practices to enhance racial equity and focus on neighborhoods that are historically underinvested.
Additional safety actions that have been or plan to be implemented in Seattle include:
- Installing leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) to encourage drivers to yield the right of way to pedestrians
- 316 intersections have LPIs so far and 60 more will be installed in 2021
- Lowering speed limits to 25 miles per hour on all arterials (busy streets with a dividing line)
- 335 of the 465 miles of arterial streets are currently marked 25 miles per hour or slower
- Adding red-painted bus lanes, repainting crosswalks, and adding left-turn lanes with green arrows on Rainer Avenue South between Hillman City and Rainier Beach (these efforts may expand to other dangerous roads)
- Using an anticipated $2 million grant to fund community engagement, right of way planning, traffic analysis, and design
- Beginning planning and design efforts with city and regional agencies by the first half of 2022
Turn to Our Personal Injury Lawyer for Trusted Advocacy
No matter how hard the SDOT works to improve road safety, the bottom line is accidents can happen regardless.
Unfortunately, far too many victims sustain life-changing injuries or die as a result of other drivers’ negligence and recklessness, but that doesn’t mean they should go unpunished. You deserve the highest and fairest compensation needed to help you get back up on your feet.
Whether you were injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, or your loved one was wrongfully killed by the actions of another, you can count on Dore Law Group, PLLC to go above and beyond to champion your best interests and help you move forward with your life. We have proven our ability to hold negligent parties responsible for their wrongdoings and can help do the same for you.
Contact us at (253) 236-3888 to schedule your free consultation. We will stand up for you and stand by you every step of the way.