The newest Michigan driving statistics are out, and much of the data is disappointingly grim. With 18% fewer cars on Michigan roads in 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, it would be logical to expect fewer fatal crashes. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Although the number of auto accidents decreased by 22% last year, traffic deaths rose by a disturbing 10%. In fact, more people were killed on Michigan roads in 2020 than in any year since 2007. On a more positive note, auto accident injuries declined by 22% last year. Here is an overview of the most recent crash statistics from the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center.
Last year, 1,083 people died as a result of motor vehicle accidents on Michigan roadways – the highest number of fatalities in 13 years. This is a 10% increase over 2019, when 985 people were killed in fatal crashes.
This rise in the death toll is especially shocking because there was 18% less traffic in 2020 due to the pandemic. Furthermore, there were 22% fewer car accidents last year, 245,432 in 2020 compared to 314,377 in 2019. Therefore, while the total number of crashes decreased, the number of fatal crashes rose 12%, from 902 in 2019 to 1,010 in 2020.
Despite the increase in fatalities, the number of injuries resulting from auto accidents decreased by 22% last year, from 80,692 in 2019 to 66,419 in 2020.
Approximately 30% of the traffic fatalities in 2020 (326 deaths) involved alcohol. This was an increase of 11% from 2019, when 295 people died in alcohol-related crashes.
In addition, drug-related traffic fatalities increased by 13%, from 237 deaths in 2019 to 267 in 2020.
Motor vehicle drivers and passengers were not the only group with increased fatalities in 2020. There was also a significant rise in deaths among motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Here are the dismal statistics:
Motorcycle accidents increased 10%, from 2,723 in 2019 to 2,988 in 2020. In these crashes, 152 motorcyclists died in 2020, a 25% increase from 2019, when 122 motorcyclists were killed in fatal crashes.
While bicycle accidents decreased by 18% in 2020, the number of bicyclists who died in fatal accidents increased by a shocking 81%, from 21 in 2019 to 38 in 2020.
175 pedestrians died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020, a 17% increase from 2019, when 149 pedestrians were killed.
Cell phone-related accidents used to be included in the “Distracted Driving” category of the Michigan State Police annual crash statistics. Now, these accidents are listed as a separate category. And, according to the latest MSP data, deaths resulting from traffic accidents involving cell phones rose 33% last year, from 15 victims in 2019 to 20 in 2020.
Furthermore, traffic safety professionals believe there are significantly more distracted driving accidents than the statistics reflect. This is because it is often difficult for law enforcement to determine whether a driver was distracted by a cell phone or another activity in the aftermath of a crash.
Recommended reading: Did the Pandemic Spark a Rise in Michigan Speeding Tickets?
While many pandemic restrictions were still in place for the first half of this year, traffic deaths continued to increase. According to preliminary data from Michigan State Police, more people died in motor vehicle accidents in the first five months of 2021 than during the same time period in 2020 and 2019. What’s more, this deadly trend is expected to continue as more workplaces and schools reopen across the state.
Sadly, Michigan is not the only state experiencing a rise in traffic deaths. While many aspects of life slowed down during the pandemic, traffic deaths accelerated across the country. Even with approximately 13.2% fewer cars on the road in 2020, traffic deaths increased an estimated 8% nationwide compared to the previous year.
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