CONCORD — Public safety officials are reporting a spike in traffic fatalities this year in New Hampshire, despite less traffic on area roads due to the coronavirus pandemic, mirroring a dangerous trend in other states across New England and the U.S.
According to the New Hampshire Office of Highway Safety (OHS), there have been 34 traffic-related fatalities this year between Jan. 1 and May 6 in the Granite State, a 70% increase from a year ago when there were 19 deaths over the same time frame. There were 102 traffic deaths reported in 2017, 147 in 2018 and 101 in 2019.
There have also been eight adult pedestrian fatalities so far in 2020, a 166% increase year over year.
Capt. William Haynes, commander of highway safety, said his office is also seeing an increase in speeding.
“OHS remains committed to traffic safety and will maintain coordinated police monitoring activities between local, county and state law enforcement agencies,” said Haynes in a statement.
In Vermont, state police say there have been seven traffic deaths as of April 2020. That’s three more deaths than there were this time last year. Police say the 10-year average for this date is 11.
In Massachusetts, officials with MassHighway and state police report while traffic in the Bay State is down, deadly crashes are up.
“Our traffic and safety engineers continuously monitor roadways across the Commonwealth and have identified a dangerous trend that has led to the doubling of the vehicular fatality rate in Massachusetts for the month of April,” said Massachusetts Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver in a statement. “During the pandemic, everyone in the Commonwealth has sacrificed and used disciplined actions to keep themselves, their loved ones, and our community safe. We ask that all residents use this same dedication to safety and reduce their speeds when driving.”
According to Massachusetts highway officials, there were 27 traffic deaths reported in April 2019. In April 2020 there were 28, with traffic levels down about 50% in the state.
“Speed and distraction is cited in many of those,” Gulliver said in a statement.
In Maine, state police kicked off a speed reduction initiative on April 25. Since then, troopers have written 271 citations and issued 111 warnings for speeding, with some drivers traveling at speeds over 100 mph.