Updated on: 5/27/2021
Data from the Washington State Patrol shows that the overall number of motor vehicle collisions declined in 2020 as Washington dealt with the fallout of a global pandemic. But why did the number of accidents resulting in serious injuries and fatalities increase?
According to the Washington State Patrol (WSP), there was a significant year-over-year decline in the total number of motor vehicle accidents in Washington state from 2019 to 2020.
There were 113,544 total reported collisions in 2020, down 24% from 148,933 in 2019. Given that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in massive lockdowns and quarantines across the Evergreen State, a decline in the total number of auto accidents is not surprising, and was even anticipated given the significant decrease in miles traveled for Washingtonians. At the same time, however, the number of serious and fatal car accidents that occured in Washington state spiked significantly in 2020.
According to the WSP, there were 2899 total crashes identified as a "Serious Injury Collision" or "Fatal Collision" in Washington in 2020. That was up from 2693 in 2019 - an increase of more than 7%.
|2019 (Serious Injury/Fatalities)||2020 (Serious Injury/Fatalities)|
What Caused This Spike In Serious Accidents?
It is not exactly clear what factors may have contributed to this trend, and the reality is that there are likely many contributing factors here. Some assumptions could be made about whether a decline in the opportunities for recreation and other activities in Washington state relating to the statewide lockdowns might have played a role.
Regardless of the reason for the spike in serious and fatal accidents, the trend is concerning and paints a difficult picture for future traffic safety trends in Washington. As our state moves toward a "return to normal," it will be interesting to see which direction these trends go.