TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - With more people working from home and limiting travel, people are driving fewer miles and in turn, there have been fewer crashes and crash deaths, that is according to an October report from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
However, the report shows the number of deaths has not declined as significantly as predicted.
In fact, the administration reported the rate of deaths per mile driven has increased, about 25% higher than predicted.
According to the report, the stay-at-home orders may have led to less drivers on the road during the height of the health crisis, but those drivers who were on the road were more willing to take risks. Seat belt use declined during the pandemic and speeding and impaired driving increased.
Tucson Fire Department Captain Aaron Snyder said he noticed a drop in calls at the beginning of the pandemic, but things have started to pick up again.
Snyder joined the department 21 years ago, and attributes a high call volume to the growth of the city.
“It used to be that the central stations were busy and most of the outlying stations were slow. There are very few slow stations anymore,” Snyder said.
Many times, firefighters are the first on scene.
“You name it, we respond to it,” Snyder said.
They respond to someone’s worst day everyday.
“When you deal with pediatric calls, your heart kind of sinks a little bit. You are kind of preparing yourself for the worst,” Snyder said.
Snyder said those calls never get easier.
“It does take an emotional toll on you and it can be difficult,” Snyder said.
According to crash reports from the Arizona Department of Transportation, there were more crashes in October than any other month in 2018 and 2019.
In October of last year, there were 11,749 crashes reported. The data shows the peak date for all fatal crashes in 2019, was Friday, October 4.
In 2018, there were 11,744 crashes in October. The peak date for crashes that year was Tuesday, October 9.
October is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and new this year, National Pedestrian Safety Month.
“We do respond to a fair amount of pedestrians struck. It’s sad to see; it really is,” Snyder said.
Earlier this month, a pedestrian was hit at Golf Links and Wilmot.
The day before, another pedestrian was hit at 6th Avenue and 44th Street.
A nine-year-old child was killed near Broadway Boulevard and Pantano Road on September 30.
Just days before that, a woman was hit by a car at Valencia and Swan.
According to the City of Tucson, as of the 21st of October 2020, 22 pedestrians died in traffic accidents this year.
ADOT does not have year-to-date crash data, so we will have to wait to see if the trend of peak crashes in October continues this year.