If you thought people have been driving kind of recklessly these days, you’re not mistaken. And experts are putting the blame squarely on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fatalities from car wrecks are up 7% in 2020 and 18% in just the first 6 months of this year — the highest in 14 years.
At the start of the pandemic during lockdown, there was an epidemic of speeding on the empty wide open highways free from rush hour traffic. Now the roads are packed again, but we’re still seeing more reckless driving than ever before.
Experts say the bad behavior is a direct reflection of the mental state of the nation. The pandemic has left us feeling isolated, lonely and depressed, and it’s affecting how we drive.
The phenomenon is called “arousal breakout.”
“Some people may have, as a coping mechanism, turned to letting out some of their frustration on the road or using substances, or a combination of the two,” Dr. Johnathon Ehsani of Johns Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health told Inside Edition.
Drunk driving fatalities are up nearly 10% since the start of the pandemic. One drunk driver in Detroit caused a crash that sent four people to the hospital.
And in New York, a woman was drunk when she plowed across a front yard and smashed into a house.
“People are not wearing their seatbelt. They’re driving impaired. And they’re also speeding,” said Jane Terry of the National Safety Council. “We lose over 100 people, on average, in this country every day as a result of car crashes.”