Fatal Car Crashes Surged in 2020 Despite Pandemic Lockdowns
Traffic deaths in the U.S. rose in 2020 despite widespread coronavirus-related lockdowns that drastically reduced traffic.
“We think the big culprit is speeding,” Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), told the Associated Press. “A big factor here is the lack of enforcement. We are hearing from many states that traffic stops have declined during COVID-19. Drivers feel like they can speed and get away with it.”
More than 28,000 people died in traffic crashes during the first nine months of the year, up 4.6% from 2019, according to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Safety experts attribute the uptick to risky behavior including speeding, driving while intoxicated and forgoing seat belts.
“With fewer cars on the road and fewer police stops, the pandemic appears to have emboldened some drivers to take unnecessary and selfish risks,” McNabola Law Group managing partner Mark McNabola said. “We have witnessed drivers disregarding stop signs and treating roads like their own personal speedways. Because of COVID-19, drivers are aware that most of the highways do not have police actively ticketing. As a result, many of the freeways are wide open and allow for negligent drivers who create huge dangers.”
According to the NHTSA, 65% of drivers who sustained injuries in a crash in 2020 had drugs or alcohol in their system — up from just over 50% before the pandemic. And data from five trauma centers revealed a higher prevalence of alcohol, opioids and marijuana in crash victims, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Small Speed Increases Can Have Big Consequences
Speeding has long been a leading culprit in U.S. traffic collisions.
New research recently revealed that even small increases in speed can have dramatic effects.
A crash that is survivable at 40 mph, for instance, could be fatal at 50 mph, according to crash tests from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Humanetics.
In crash tests conducted at 50 and 56 mph, the crash dummy’s head broke through the deployed airbag and smashed into the steering wheel. In a human victim, that impact would likely cause facial fractures or severe brain injuries.
“Higher speed limits cancel out the benefits of vehicle safety improvements like airbags and improved structural designs,” IIHS President David Harkey said. “The faster a driver is going before a crash, the less likely it is that they’ll be able to get down to a survivable speed even if they have a chance to brake before impact.”
“Our country has a speeding problem that has only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). “Thousands of people die needlessly on our roads because some drivers mistakenly think less traffic means they can speed and nothing bad will happen.”
From motorcyclists to pedestrians, from physical trauma to brain injuries, our team has obtained numerous multimillion-dollar settlements for clients and their families following traumatic events. We fight for your rights.
Here is a look at some of our Illinois cases:
Red Light Crash Leads to Partial Paralysis
McNabola Law Group and lead trial attorney Mark McNabola obtained a $10.12 million record-high jury verdict for a 70-year-old woman who sustained debilitating spinal injuries in a crash. Defense attorneys offered to settle the lawsuit out of court for $1.8 million — but McNabola took the case to trial and secured a verdict worth more than five times that amount.
The crash occurred at the intersection of Route 53 and Hobson Road in Woodridge, Illinois. The 70-year-old victim was driving through the intersection when a pickup truck driver disregarded a red light and turned left into her vehicle.
As a result of the crash, the victim sustained fractured and dislocated vertebrae, requiring cervical fusion. She was diagnosed with incomplete quadriplegia with no functional use of her legs and diminished use of her arms.
“Before this horrific crash, our client enjoyed a fulfilling and active lifestyle,” McNabola said, “but the actions of a reckless driver left her trapped in a wheelchair and in need of 24-hour care. A police investigator and an independent eyewitness testified that our client had a green light and the right of way at the time of the crash. Sadly, this tragedy could have been avoided if the pickup truck driver simply slowed down and followed the rules of the road.”
Bus Driver Was Speeding Before Fatal Crash
McNabola Law Group and lead trial attorney Mark McNabola obtained a $9 million record-high jury award for the family of a 17-year-old girl killed in an interstate crash involving a Greyhound bus.
The girl’s family was traveling southbound on I-55 in Illinois when car trouble forced the family to park on the shoulder. Shortly thereafter, a Greyhound bus and a passenger car collided on the highway. The impact sent the car careening toward the shoulder, where the vehicle struck and killed the 17-year-old girl.
During a Cook County trial, partner Mark McNabola proved the Greyhound bus driver was negligent because he drove too fast for the road conditions and failed to avoid the initial collision with the passenger car.
City Negligence at Chicago Construction Site
McNabola Law Group and lead attorney Mark McNabola obtained an $8 million record-high jury verdict for a man who lost his leg after being struck by a car in a City of Chicago construction zone.
The man, 52, was working for a utilities company when a city supervisor asked him to mark the locations of underground telephone cables at a construction site in the Logan Square neighborhood.
As the utility worker finished the job and began putting tools back in his truck, a confused driver lost control and drove into the worker — pinning him against the truck and immediately severing his leg.
McNabola Law Group alleged the driver was heading south on Milwaukee Avenue when he found his lane obstructed by construction equipment. The at-fault driver followed other traffic into the northbound lane to get around the construction zone but was forced to swerve back into his own lane as an oncoming car approached.
It was then he struck the 52-year-old worker.
Lead trial attorney Mark McNabola proved City of Chicago employees were negligent because they failed to safely mark the construction site, failed to reroute traffic using flagmen or barricades and failed to establish a buffer zone between workers and motorists.
“More than 100 construction workers are killed in traffic crashes each year,” McNabola said. “Those deaths can be avoided if cities, states and private companies work together to ensure worker and driver safety. Drivers must always slow down and be ready to adapt to changing road conditions.”
Motorcycle Result Makes Illinois History
The man, 45, was driving a motorcycle with his 15-year-old daughter as rear passenger on July 15, 2006, when they passed through the intersection of Houbolt and Mound roads in Joliet, Illinois. A Chevrolet pickup truck turned left into traffic and struck the motorcycle.
The girl suffered a broken right leg and ankle, which required multiple surgeries and skin grafts. Her father’s injuries included wrist and ankle fractures that required surgery.
Semi-Truck Driver Causes Multi-Vehicle Collision
McNabola Law Group obtained a $2 million result for a 24-year-old woman who was seriously injured when her car was forced off the road by a semi-truck on I-80 in Illinois.
The woman was driving westbound in the left lane on I-80 on Sept. 4, 2004, when the tractor trailer entered her lane from the right and forced her off the road. Her car flipped five times. The woman sustained severe injuries, including the degloving of her right arm, and required multiple surgeries.
The collision caused crashes with several other vehicles, including one that resulted in fatal injuries.
When tragedy strikes, it’s important to seek immediate legal assistance. An experienced attorney can help your family seek justice and receive the compensation you need for physical, mental, emotional and financial recovery.
Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.