The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many areas of life for most of us. It has also had significant effects on the roads we drive on, according to AAA’s new American Driving Survey. 

Matthew Conde, the public and government affairs director for AAA Idaho, says people who were at a higher risk for catching the virus spent more time at home for their health. He says that as these people stayed home, others would continue to work in areas like delivery driving. Conde says the number of people not going out at all was among the most interesting of AAA’s findings in the survey. 

“One of the things that I thought was the most interesting, we found that the percentage of people that stayed in the same place fluctuated from 9 to 14% on a given day before the pandemic. That jumped up to 26% in April 2020, so one in four people were staying home and not going anywhere,” Conde said. 

With fewer drivers on the road in 2020, you’d expect the roads to be safer, but Conde says it was just the opposite. 

“So even though there are fewer vehicle miles being traveled, we are seeing an increase in deaths, not as a percentage, as a total,” he said. 

There were nearly 39,000 fatalities across the United States in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Conde says we need to do our part to reverse that upward trend. Conde says the increased deaths are in part due to people staying home and using a substance, then going out on the road, among other things like increased speeds and reduced law enforcement presence.