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Fatal crashes rise sharply in New York

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ALBANY, New York (WWNY) – According to a new state report, the number of people dying in auto crashes in New York skyrocketed from 2019 to 2022.

The report, released Thursday by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, says the number grew by nearly 26%.

It also says 2022 was the deadliest year in a decade with 1,175 traffic fatalities on New York roads.

The north country

The north county had the state’s highest per capita fatality rate in 2022 at 12.9 per 100,000 people. In other words, out of 100,000 people, roughly 13 died.

The report says one reason could be that the region has more residents who must rely on vehicles to go places. They also likely have to drive farther distances.

Breaking down the numbers further, Lewis County had the state’s second-highest fatality rate with 30 fatalities per 100,000 residents.

The reasons

Why the rising numbers? The state blames the Covid-19 pandemic and cites research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The NHTSA concluded that driving patterns and behaviors across the U.S. changed significantly after the March 2020 public health emergency was declared.

“Of the drivers who remained on the roads, some engaged in riskier behavior including speeding, failure to wear seat belts and driving under the influence,” the NHTSA stated.

The state also cites a 2020 national survey of nearly 3,000 licensed active drivers conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

The results found that 60 percent of drivers surveyed had reduced their driving due to the COVID pandemic while 4 percent reported an increase in driving. Those who had increased driving reported higher rates of risky driving behavior, primarily speeding, but also texting, running red lights and changing lanes aggressively.

According to the AAA, with less traffic on the road, “a driver’s perceptions of the risk and difficulty of the driving may have been reduced relative to typical pre-pandemic driving situations,” allowing them to be more comfortable performing more risk-increasing behaviors

The numbers

There were 1,175 traffic fatalities in New York in 2022, which was the highest number since 2013.

Most fatal car crashes occur on urban roadways.

Three out of four vehicles involved in fatal crashes were passenger vehicles and light trucks in 2022. Overwhelmingly in fatal accidents, people who were not wearing a seat belt or helmet were killed (64%).

Approximately one-in-three deaths in New York involved speeding, and another one-in-three involved a driver with a blood alcohol content above the federal legal limit of 0.08.

There was a 45% increase in fatalities involving drivers above the legal limit from 2019-2022.

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