News Article
Traffic Violence During COVID-19: Something is Seriously Wrong!

2020 was a rough year for most people, except maybe a few people like the CEO of Amazon. So much changed because of COVID; countless people lost their jobs, millions died, and the bad news was in hyperdrive. 

Everyone has defining events in their life that they will never forget -- a first kiss, graduation, a fantastic vacation. Some of them are moments we all share, like when the Challenger Space Shuttle blew up or where we were when 9/11 happened -- I know, I'm dating myself, but you get the point. What we all did to survive COVID-19 is one of those group-defining moments that we will remember. 

Not everything during 2020 was bad news. A few bright spots included the boom in cycling proportional to the decrease in traffic across the county.

Some of the seemingly good news was deceiving. Across the US in 2020, there was a massive 13% drop[1] in vehicle miles traveled. In California, the number of vehicle miles traveled dropped by 14.6%[2]. As one would expect, with fewer cars on the road, there was a significant drop in traffic collisions -- 21.7%[3] drop in California and a 26% drop[4] in traffic collisions in the City of Los Angeles.

But, as I said, this good news was deceiving. Per the National Safety Council, the preliminary estimated rate of death (number of people who died compared to the miles traveled) on the roads last year spiked 24% over the previous 12-month period. The increase in death rate is the highest estimated year-over-year jump that NSC has calculated since 1924 -- 96 years. 

In South LA, the numbers were similarly shocking.  South Los Angeles saw a 23% increase in the number of people severely injured or killed due to traffic violence during 2020[5]

As we are approaching the halfway mark in 2021, with traffic now returning to normal levels, the amount of traffic violence has continued to spike. There's a 25.5% increase in the number of people seriously injured or killed in Los Angeles compared to this time last year. These stats are exponentially worse in South LA, with a staggering 62% increase in severe injuries and fatalities. 

I genuinely don't know what to say or how even to process the numbers I'm seeing. It defies logic, yet when I talk to people in South LA, they tell me how they witnessed firsthand a surge in traffic violence and its consequences. I don't have an explanation or effective strategy, but I can say this -- the system is broken. Whatever we are doing, the current strategies are NOT working, and lives are being lost faster than before. 

This is not an admission of defeat or any idea that we should give up on our efforts to make streets safer, but sometimes, to fix something, you first have to recognize that it's broken, and that's the first step. 


[1] National Safety Council 4 Mar 2021

[2] Transportation Injury Mapping System

[3] Transportation Injury Mapping System.

[4] Los Angeles Police Department COMPSTAT Citywide Traffic

[5] Los Angeles Police Department COMPSTAT Citywide Traffic

Author: Dayna