NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Gas prices and airline travel have decreased dramatically since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But there’s another travel statistic that’s decreasing too.
Tennessee Highway Patrol data shows a 15% decrease in ‘investigated traffic crashes’ state-wide between January and July of 2019 and 2020.
Lt. Charlie Caplinger with THP says less cars on the road means less opportunity for crashes. With thousands of people working from home, it’s created a noticeable difference for state troopers.
“It translates out to just about two thousand crashes less than what we worked at this same time last year,” Caplinger said. “It does feel like you’re going to less. Two thousand crashes is a lot and you can tell a big difference.”
Caplinger says in some cases troopers are taking reports over the phone, and avoiding in-person contact during the pandemic. But that’s only in less serious situations, like if a driver hits an animal or runs over debris.
But one statistic that is up this year? Roadway fatalities.
“Fatality crashes are down. But the fatality rate is up, and that means that we’re having more fatalities in one crash versus different crashes,” Caplinger said.
Lt. Caplinger attributes that increase to speed, saying some drivers are taking advantage of the open roadways created by coronavirus. But proceed with caution, because state troopers are still on patrol.
“COVID is not a free pass. We’re still there,” Caplinger said.
(*These numbers are only from accidents investigated by the Tennessee Highway Patrol. There are, of course, other crashes that have been investigated across the state by other local agencies.)