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The driving paradox

Adam Oxford
Adam Oxford

Coronavirus has been highly effective at relieving our roads of congestion, but it hasn’t improved our driving much. The Economist reports that in the US traffic volumes dropped around 13% in 2020 compared to 2019, but road-related deaths were up by a massive 24%. Are people driving more recklessly because there are fewer other road users or because they’re just angrier? Here in SA, there’s the annual release of stats around road accidents on Easter weekend, and they’re well… confusing. This year’s figures show a slight drop on 2019, to 189 crashes over the weekend period and 235 fatalities compared to 193 crashes and 260 fatalities.

But the caveat is that the official release of numbers from 2019 didn’t include Easter Monday. Obviously that’s a big day for traffic returning home at high speed, and not counting it had nothing to do with wanting good news for the up-coming election. So it’s hard for us lay people to check the numbers.

The new numbers for 2019 reported today seem to include that missing Monday data, but without knowing whether or not there were more cars on the road this year (unlikely) it’s impossible to tell whether the number of accidents per journey was up or down. Either way, road deaths are a tragic and senseless loss of life that are a stain on our societies.

(Image – CC DBZ2313)

Adam Oxford
  • Adam Oxford is a freelance journalist, media consultant and civic tech enthusiast. He also works closely with startups developing solutions to access to justice problems.

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