Comparing 2020 Crash Statistics
Although 2020 was an abnormal year where a fraction of cars were on the road at any given time, a shocking number of accidents still occurred. Often, these were more dangerous due to the conditions, as more motorists were speeding or driving recklessly due to the less crowded roadways. In Louisiana, this meant parishes that frequently had fewer drivers involved in accidents might have seen more fatal or injury crashes than in previous years.
In looking at the data from The Center for Analytics & Research in Transportation at Louisiana State University (CART), we can better understand how crashes were affected by this behavior.
Following the trend of the last five years, injury crashes were at their lowest point in 2020, showing about a 19.5% decrease from 2016 and a 10% decrease from 2019. However, many parishes experienced one of their highest injury crash rates in recent history. Acadia in Western Louisiana, for example, recorded its highest injury crash rate since 2016.
While many parishes are seeing a decrease over this time frame, Orleans has remained steady in the number one spot, despite not having the highest crash rate overall. In 2020, the area accounted for 5,155 injury crashes, a drastic difference from the 6,263 recorded in the previous year. Even with this number of injury crashes, another parish had a higher number of fatal crashes overall.
East Baton Rouge recorded an all-time high of 81 fatal crashes during 2020, making it the number one spot holder for more than ten consecutive years. This crash rate was also 40% higher than the one recorded in 2019.
Additionally, Orleans Parish recorded 47, a 14% increase from the year prior. Fatal crashes ultimately increased overall by 11%, which was also the highest number recorded since 2008.
Understandably, there is much cause for concern regarding a higher number of fatal crashes that occurred when many people could not leave their homes. Getting a more holistic view of crash characteristics may provide a better understanding of this phenomenon.
Contributing Factors in Fatal and Injury Crashes
We already know that fewer drivers on the road increased the number of people speeding - and reports from across the country have proven this, even early into nationwide stay-at-home orders. However, this is not the only dangerous factor that increased during the pandemic.
2020 saw the highest rate of alcohol-related crashes since 2015, with more than 7,300 motorists being involved in collisions with a drunk driver. While this number may not seem significant, about 40% of all fatalities and 7% of injuries were estimated to be alcohol-related.
Louisiana requires that all passengers under 18 wear an appropriate safety restraint when in a moving vehicle. Unfortunately, this is another bad behavior that ran rampant in 2020. About 58.8% of vehicle occupants killed in motor vehicle accidents were not wearing a safety belt. This was the highest rate since 2015.
Motorcycle Helmet Usage
Similar to the decreased seatbelt usage, fewer motorcycle drivers were wearing helmets. There was about a 25% increase in motorcycle crashes in which a rider did not use a helmet in 2020. This was also the highest number of injury and fatal motorcycle crashes involving no helmet use ever recorded in the state since 2007.
2021 Crash Trends Aren’t Improving
There are many reasons why drivers may have chosen to take additional risks on the roads in 2020 compared to previously. A reopening plan began in just March 2020, and although restrictions were still in place for Orleans Parish businesses and schools, tourists were attracted to the state's eased approach.
CART updates the injury and fatal crash data weekly, and Orleans Parish is already recording the highest number in both categories for 2021. Unfortunately, this appears to be a trend that may continue for years to come.
Car Accident? We Can Help.
The Burrell Firm LLC has spent nearly a decade helping those injured in New Orleans car crashes obtain compensation for damages. If you or a loved one is seeking legal representation following a collision resulting in injury or death, call (504) 420-7575 to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.