America's roads deadlier during coronavirus pandemic, safety group finds

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The National Safety Council has studied driving data since the novel coronavirus outbreak hit the U.S. in March and found that the streets have become deadlier, despite a decrease in the number of drivers out on the road.

The data showed that in March, when Americans began to drive less due to the spread of the pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders, the fatality rate per mile rose by 14 percent compared to the year before, The Washington Post reported.

The overall death count did decrease by 8 percent, according to the report from the council. It credited the decline to the shelter-in-place orders issued by state governors.

However, data that was reportedly taken from all 50 states and the District of Columbia showed a spike in speeding and dangerous driving.

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“The risk on our roads has actually increased,” the council's manager of statistics Ken Kolosh said.

He told The Washington Post: "Although an 8 percent decrease in deaths from one March to the next March is great news, that decrease should have been even greater if the risk on our roads had stayed the same. We should have seen closer to an 18 percent decrease in deaths.”

The death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven also went up to 1.22 in March, up from 1.07 in March 2019, according to the report.

“We really have to keep a very close eye on the trends going forward,” Kolosh added. “Unfortunately, with the anecdotal reports of risky driving, we fear that the fatality rate per hundred million miles traveled is going to continue to be elevated.”

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As of Wednesday evening, there were more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and over 93,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.