Highway Miles Down, Fatalities Up

The rate of traffic fatalities on Kansas highways surged in the first nine months of 2020 despite dramatic reduction in miles traveled because of temporary stay-at-home mandates and ongoing health concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials say.

The Reflector reports that number of vehicle miles traveled on Kansas highways from January through September plummeted 10.2% compared to the same period in 2019.

The fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled in Kansas increased during the nine-month period, escalating to 1.52 in 2020 from 1.29 in 2019.

The total number of Kansas highway traffic fatalities – not just the rate – increased during the March to September months in which COVID-19 imposed the greatest impact on residents of the state.

The National Safety Council’s estimate based on the first six months of 2020 data from all 50 states indicated there was a 20% jump in the U.S. death rate, which is a key indicator of how safely drivers used the roadways.

The shift between January and June 2020, compared to the same six-month period in 2019, represented the highest surge for a six-month period since 1999, NSC said.