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Michigan traffic fatalities increased in 2020 during COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted at 9:35 AM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 09:35:52-04

(WXYZ) — Michigan traffic deaths peaked above 1,000 for the first time in three years according to recently released data from the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center.

The 1,083 fatalities in 2020 marked a 10-percent increase from 985 fatalities in 2019 and the most traffic fatalities in Michigan since 1,084 deaths in 2007.

While fatalities spiked, the number of injuries, crashes and serious injuries declined from the year before:

The percentage of alcohol-involved fatalities increased by 11 percent from 295 deaths in 2019 to 326 deaths in 2020. This represents 30 percent of all traffic fatalities for the year.

“Even though there was a dramatic drop in traffic crashes and injuries during 2020, there was an unfortunate surge in fatalities,” said Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, in a press release. “The OHSP will be coordinating high-visibility enforcement campaigns this summer focusing on impaired driving and seat belt use to reverse the trends we are seeing.”

Prince said Michigan and most other states are seeing a reduction in traffic crashes but a jump in fatalities. This data could indicate a rise in crash “severity,” which may indicate reductions in seat belt use, increases in impairment and increases in speed, but Prince said further analysis is required.