motor vehicle deaths

Highway Deaths Spike for Third-Straight Month as Drivers Take Advantage of Empty Roads

"At a moment when the country should be reaping a safety benefit from less traffic, the roads are riskier, threatening to reverse traffic safety gains made over the last few years," the safety report read

In this Feb. 3, 2005, file photo, cars drive in the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane (R), also called the diamond or commuter lane, on the 118 or Ronald Reagan Freeway near Simi Valley, California.
Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Motor vehicle fatalities surged by 23.5 percent in May, as drivers took advantage of open roads to push to autobahn speeds, a situation made easier by the fact that authorities in many communities were pulling back on enforcement, in part, to avoid risking the possibility of their officers becoming exposed to the coronavirus.

According to the National Safety Council report, the May numbers mark the third-straight month that U.S. motorists were at a higher risk of dying from a crash — and it comes as a setback to safety advocates who had been hoping that the drop in traffic during the coronavirus-induced lockdown would see a decline in highway fatalities.

"At a moment when the country should be reaping a safety benefit from less traffic, the roads are riskier, threatening to reverse traffic safety gains made over the last few years," the NSC said in a statement.

For every 100 million miles driven, the death rate for May rose to 1.47, compared to 1.19 in 2019, according to the preliminary statistics.

Read the full story on NBCNews.com

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