Early in the pandemic, Kentucky State Police officers received a flood of calls about “erratic driving” and frightful speeding in the abnormally quiet streets of Daviess County. Those ultimately translated into statistics: traffic accidents significantly decreased locally this year while total fatalities paralleled recent historical data.
“There were less people commuting, but there was more reckless driving earlier in the pandemic,” said KSP Trooper Corey King.
In Daviess County, KSP reported 3,806 accidents in 2020 (as of Tuesday’s reported numbers) compared to 4,612 in 2019 and 4,856 in 2018.
For fatalities, KSP reported 9 incidents in Daviess County in 2020 (as of Tuesday’s reported numbers), compared to 12 in 2019 and 9 in 2018.
This trend was not unique to the region. During the first half of 2020, total traffic volume decreased nationally by 16 percent while traffic fatalities decreased by about 3 percent. This caused the fatality rate to increase, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Between April and June, the fatality rate jumped to 1.42 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled — far exceeding rates dating back to 2008 in the NHTSA report.
King witnessed several factors that may have contributed to this trend: distracted driving on unusually sparse roads, intentional, three-digit speeding on U.S. 165 and in rural areas with winding roads, and limited police enforcement resources.
“Personnel numbers aren’t where I’d like them to be,” King said. “Resources were strained early in the pandemic. There were fewer road checks and less proactive measures.”
King hopes to see more targeted enforcement in place moving forward into the new year — utilizing the new traffic data to identify potential accident-prone areas.