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Pandemic may have contributed to deadlier roadways, DOT reports

Posted at 6:18 AM, Nov 03, 2021

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — Traffic fatalities are up during the pandemic, as the Department of Transportation reports that the first six months of 2021 were the deadliest on the roads in 15 years.

The DOT has discovered the newest trend during the pandemic; more and more people are driving recklessly and it's costing them their lives." They're just not making really good choices. We know alcohol is involved in more crashes now. I think people are self-medicating because of Covid and they are making mistakes," adds Pabst.

"Ever since Covid hit we've seen an increase and it's not just here in Wisconsin it's across the country," says David Pabst with the Wisconsin DOT>

Pabst says during the pandemic, as fewer people got behind the wheel, many were driving more dangerously.

"We've seen a huge increase in the number of people speeding in excess of 100 miles per hour. That's just not reasonable. It's suicidal," adds Pabst.

The DOT has found that pre-pandemic more than 90 percent of drivers were buckling up. But during the pandemic, that number has fallen below 88 percent. And according to the DOT, that's just one new factor contributing to more deaths on the roadways.

"Everybody in the traffic safety community is trying to get our fingers on what the issues are," says David Noyce the Director of Operations and Safety Laboratory at UW Madison.

Noyce says he believes that fewer people are on our roads today compared to pre-pandemic levels, and that may be contributing to a more dangerous commute for many.

"In transportation theory, we say drivers operate at the speed they feel comfortable at. That's why many people speed," says Noyce

And while slowing down and buckling up could likely help change the deadly trend on roads across the country, traffic experts say drug and alcohol-related wrecks continue to play out at pre-pandemic levels despite fewer folks being on the roads.