CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Road deaths in Massachusetts have seen a significant increase despite lower traffic volumes due to the pandemic

22News learned more about why we are seeing this increase.

22News spoke with AAA Northeast and they attributed the increase to three things:

  • Seatbelt usage is down 4%.
  • People are speeding excessively
  • People are not sharing the roads safely with motorcyclists.

“It’s a bit frightening to drive on the roads right now because there’s a lot of aggression a lot of distraction and a lot of speeding,” said Mark Shieldop of AAA Northeast.

The roads are becoming more dangerous according to new numbers from the state. Road deaths in Massachusetts and across the country increased last year, and early numbers show 2022 looks to be even worse.

During the summer, there are more teen drivers on the roads, along with more pedestrians, which is helping to cause the numbers to rise. 22News spoke with AAA about some safe driving practices.

“Really the faster you go the fatality risk exponentially increases so we really urge people to leave a little earlier, drive a little slower, take it a little bit easier and you’ll be protecting yourself and lowering your risk,” said Shieldrop.

According to MassDOT, in 2021, Massachusetts had over 400 roadway deaths, the highest amount in more than 11 years. So practicing safe driving habits like wearing a seatbelt and avoiding distracted driving is important to keep everyone safe on the roads

“I just think a lot of people are distracted they are on their cellphones or they are in a rush to get to places,” said Chris Hall of West Springfield.

Hall says he is noticing more aggression on the roads because of the pandemic, which kept many drivers at home.

“I try to take a little bit longer to get somewhere I always give people a little bit of a cushion you know. Try not to get too close to people and you know those are the big things for me,” said Hall.

In an effort to increase roadway safety MassDOT is implementing a speed management policy and investing in bicycle-friendly roadways to keep everyone safe.